The International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF) has supported calls from the Norwegian Maritime Unions (NMU) for a crew change suspension along the coast of Mozambique until the threat to seafarers’ lives reduces.

The NMU has written to the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA) asking the body’s members to avoid the province of Cabo Delgado since violence escalated in recent weeks due the growing power of terror organisations that often target foreign workers.

Now the ITF is extending the NMU’s call to all the world’s shipowners to steer clear of the conflict area, and to issue instructions to their ship management firms and manning agencies to do likewise.

Johnny Hansen, president of the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union, which is one of the three unions that form the NMU, said: “Asking seafarers to come ashore, to stay in Covid-19 quarantine facilities, while the volatile situation happening outside risks their very lives? That is unacceptable. Seafarers could be killed or taken hostage on their way to airports and harbours.

“All we are asking for is that the owners of ships serving northern Mozambique make alternative plans so that their crew changes can take place elsewhere, somewhere safer.”

Hansen went on to say that while the proposals do not solve the conflict or abate the violence, it was an important step to avoid hostage-taking becoming a viable revenue stream for the armed groups.

Earlier this year, HLPFI reported that the deteriorating security situation in the north of the Cabo Delgado province prompted Total, as operator of the Mozambique LNG project, to declare force majeure. Operations were suspended and foreign personnel were withdrawn within weeks.