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Filipino seafarers get protection under expanded HRA in Gulf of Aden

MANILA, February 27 ------ The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has lauded the expansion of the scope of “high-risk areas” (HRAs) to the entire Gulf of Aden as it would provide better protection for seafarers, including Filipinos. 


In a statement, DMW officer-in-charge Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said the decision underscores the continuing concern of the international maritime community over the safety of seafarers aboard ships transiting the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. “The expansion of the scope of ‘high-risk areas’ to include the Gulf of Aden serves as a necessary step towards providing stronger protection and promoting stricter security measures to safeguard Filipino seafarers and all seafarers working onboard ships navigating in such HRAs,” Cacdac said. 


In a joint statement on Feb. 16, the International Transport Workers Federation and the Joint Negotiating Group expressed concern about the actions taken by Houthi forces that pose a grave threat to the safety of transiting seafarers and vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Following continued incidents in the area, the International Bargaining Forum (IBF) Warlike Operations Area Committee (WOAC) agreed to place additional measures for the safety of seafarers. 


The expanded HRA now includes the entire southern section of the Red Sea and the entire Gulf of Aden off the coast of Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, stretching across to the coast of Eritrea in the Horn of Africa region of Eastern Africa. Cacdac said the designation of an HRA means that Filipino seafarers onboard ships that navigate in such waters would have the right to refuse sailing, with repatriation at the company’s cost and compensation equal to two months basic wage. 


They will also be entitled to a bonus equal to the basic wage, payable for five days minimum plus per day, if longer; double compensation in case of death and disability; and, a mandatory requirement to increase security arrangements. “The decision to include seafarers’ right to refuse to sail was not a step taken lightly as this could negatively impact global trade, but the safety of the seafarers is paramount,” the IBF joint statement read. 


The DMW reiterated its commitment to ensure and advocate the protection and well-being of Filipino seafarers and urged employers of Filipino seafarers to comply strictly with the expanded “high risk areas” designation. They are also encouraged to implement risk mitigation measures, such as rerouting vessels and deploying armed security personnel onboard the vessel. The DMW also called for continued diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions and to address the causes of the current conflict in the Middle East. 




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