As part of the ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative, the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure honoured Andy Bowerman, Regional Director for Middle East & South Asia, Mission to Seafarers. This was in recognition of his efforts and achievements in supporting seafarers and following up on their needs during his tenure in the UAE, which is nearing completion.
H.E. Eng. Hessa Al Malek, Advisor to the Minister of Maritime Transport Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, commended the efforts of Mission to Seafarers, a not-for-profit organisation that offers emergency assistance and practical support to ship crews. She praised Bowerman for his efforts in terms of caring for seafarers and providing support to them, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seafarers are at the heart of the maritime sector
H.E. Eng. Hessa Al Malek, Advisor to the Minister of Maritime Transport Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said, “Taking care of our seafarers working onboard ships is one of the primary responsibilities of the maritime transport industry. The UAE has always been one of the pioneering countries in ensuring the welfare of the seafarers' community. The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has launched many initiatives that support seafarers, including the ‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative, which aims to improve the quality of our seafarers’ lives while they are within the premises of the UAE. The initiative protects seafarers’ rights with ship owners and operating companies, as well as helps seafarers overcome their challenges. In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE has taken a step forward by classifying seafarers as ‘priority workers’ as they have been on the front line since the onset of the pandemic, providing critical services despite challenging circumstances.”
Andy Bowerman, Regional Director for Middle East & South Asia, Mission to Seafarers said, “I would like to extend my gratitude to the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure for this honour, and truly commend the Ministry’s efforts in providing support to seafarers and taking care of their affairs. Mission to Seafarers really appreciates the cooperation we have received from the Ministry, especially during the unprecedented circumstances we faced during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The practices the UAE has adopted, and the laws and regulations it has issued, contribute to making it one of the leading countries worldwide in terms of working towards the welfare of seafarers by supporting them and protecting their rights.”
Protecting and supporting seafarers
‘Supporting our Blue Army’ initiative is a comprehensive framework through which the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure combines all its initiatives aimed at supporting seafarers and protecting their rights. It also aims to provide a national platform for government and private organisations, as well as ocal and international NGOs to collaborate and work towards improving the quality of seafarers’ lives.
The initiative has enabled the Ministry to achieve several goals in terms of protecting and supporting seafarers. The most prominent of these achievements is its contribution towards issuing the Cabinet’s resolution regarding marine wrecks and violating ships; announcing regulations that guarantee the protection of seafarers’ rights; and signing an agreement with the International Transport Workers' Federation to enhance cooperation in supporting seafarers. These efforts are at par with providing moral support to seafarers in the UAE; such as, providing free medical treatment and COVID-19 vaccines, and allowing crew changes, in which the UAE has achieved a global precedence, alleviating the suffering of seafarers. During the peak of the pandemic, more than 214,000 seafarers confined to their ships were assisted in the crew change process, and were safely sent back to their home countries.