Sailor Forced To Live On Ghost Ship For Four Years Finally Allowed To Leave
A Syrian sailor was forced to live on an abandoned ship for four years. Now, he’s finally made it home.
Mohammed Aisha had been stuck on the MV Aman since May 5, 2017. When the shop was detained at the port of Adabiya in Egypt, due to expired safety certificates, life dealt him an unfortunate hand.
As the vessel’s Lebanese contractors hadn’t paid for fuel and the owners were having money problems, as well as the captain being offshore, the ship was doomed to remain off the Egyptian coast, with Mohammed declared the ship’s legal guardian. Soon, others were free to go, but he had to stay.
During those four years, often without power or any company, his mother died. ‘I seriously considered ending my life,’ he told BBC News. He also watched ships pass in the nearby Suez Canal, including his brother’s vessel, but while they’d phone each other, they’d be too far apart to wave.
At night, with no power and nobody around, it was basically a ghost ship. ‘You can’t see anything. You can’t hear anything. It’s like you’re in a coffin,’ he explained.
Some good fortune blew his way with a storm in March last year, which caused the MV Aman to drift five miles closer to the shore, meaning Mohammed could now swim to land – not just for supplies, but to be around people.
As for helping Mohammed, a representative for owners Tylos Shipping and Marine Services told the outlet: ‘I can’t force a judge to remove the legal guardianship. And I can’t find a single person on this planet – and I’ve tried – to replace him.’
His case was finally taken up by Mohamed Arrached of the International Transport Workers Federation in December. ‘The case of Mohammed has to serve to open a serious debate to prevent these abuses to seafarers on ships,’ he explained.
He added: ‘This drama and suffering of Mohammed Aisha could have been avoided if the owners and the parties with responsibilities and obligations to the ship had assumed their responsibilities and arranged his repatriation earlier.’
Unfortunately, Mohammed’s situation isn’t uncommon. According to the International Labour Organisation, there are more than 250 active, similar cases with sailors left on their own, with 85 reported in 2020 alone.
As he was about to fly home, he said: ‘How do I feel? Like I finally got out of prison. I’m finally going to be rejoined with my family. I’m going to see them again.’
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