A Syrian sailor finally made it home after living on an abandoned ship for four years.
- Mohammed Aisha of Syria was forced to live on an abandoned ship for four years without any company, and often without power.
- During the long years of isolation, Mohammed was even thinking of ending his life.
- Today, the sailor is a happy man, as he was flown back to his home country and his family.
Sailor Mohammed Aisha was held on an abandoned ship in the middle of nowhere on the MV Aman for four years. The poor sailor was left on the ghost ship without being allowed to leave since May 5, 2017, as UNILAD reports.
It's not often in this business that you get to report some genuinely good news. But I'm delighted to say that Mohammed Aisha, the sailor stuck off the Egyptian coast for 4 years, is on his way home to Syria. To all those who offered your help, many thanks. pic.twitter.com/tQ2xpC1q36
— Paul Adams (@BBCPaulAdams) April 22, 2021
Apparently, when the ship was detained at the Egyptian port of Adabiya, they found out there were some expired safety certificates. Also, it turned out that the Lebanese contractors failed to pay for fuel. Moreover, the owners of the vessel were having money issues, and the captain was offshore at the time. After all these unfortunate events lined up, there was no other option for the ship but to remain off the Egyptian coast.
While the rest of the crew was free to leave, Mohammed, who was the vessel’s legal guardian, was forced to stay.
In moments of desperation during his four-year-long isolation, the sailor considered ending his own life.
Mohammed, who describes his dreadful experience “like you’re in a coffin,” confessed a harrowing secret. As he was often left without any power or company, and he had to learn of his mother’s death while being stuck on the ship, the sailor’s mind filled with negative thoughts. In an interview with BBC, he said:
“I seriously considered ending my life.”
The poor sailor also had to watch his brother’s ship pass in the nearby Suez Canal, without being able to simply wave at him. They could only speak through the phone.
Think staying home for a year is bad?
This guy lived "The Terminal" in legal limbo, on a broken down cargo ship anchored at Egypt for FOUR YEARS without electricity, toilet, or company, occasionally receiving word of things like his mother's death.https://t.co/6cCpMQPODN
— Anthony D. Paul (@anthonydpaul) April 23, 2021
Mohammed, who was left without money and feeling increasingly unwell, shares that the nights were the worst. He explained:
“You can’t see anything. You can’t hear anything. It’s like you’re in a coffin.”
In March last year, life showed Mohammed there is hope after all.
After a storm caused the MV Aman to drift five moles closer to the shore, the sailor was finally at a distance allowing him to swim to the land. He was finally able to get supplies, recharge his phone, and spend some time around people.
When confronted about Mohammed’s case, a representative for owners Tylos Shipping and Marine Services said:
“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.”
Thankfully, the issue was finally taken by Mohamed Arrached of the International Transport Workers Federation. In December last year, Arrached explained:
“The case of Mohammed has to serve to open a serious debate to prevent these abuses to seafarers on ships. 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.”
However, the misfortune of a sailor being abandoned on a ship due to legal mix-ups is not an uncommon one.
The International Labour Organisation reveals that there are over 250 similar active cases, with 85 reported in 2020 alone.
Luckily, Mohammed’s story has a happy ending.
After spending four years onboard stranded off the Egyptian coast, he was finally freed and flown home to Syria. In a touching voice message, 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.”