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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Shipbreaking Platform launches fundraising campaign for afflicted workers

The NGO Shipbreaking Platform is a global coalition of 17 environmental and human rights organisations advocating for sustainable ship recycling worldwide, and working to reverse the environmental and human rights abuses caused by current shipbreaking practices on the beaches of South Asia. 

More than 70 percent of end-of-life vessels end up in South Asia, where they are broken down under rudimentary conditions on the beaches of Alang-Sosiya in India, Chattogram in Bangladesh, and Gadani in Pakistan – a practice known as ‘beaching’. The human and environmental impacts of the shipbreaking industry are devastating. The industry is even considered by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. 

Shipbreaking workers, often exploited migrants, lose their lives on accidents or suffer severe injuries, such as burns, amputations and serious spinal injuries, due to unsafe working conditions. The shipbreaking workers are also vulnerable to occupational diseases due to the exposure to toxic substances embedded within the ships’ structures, including asbestos, PCBs and heavy metals. Asbestos is one of the most common and most hazardous materials found onboard ships. When extracted, it breaks into fine fibres, which can be suspended in the air for long periods of time. If inhaled, the fibres can lead to fatal diseases such as lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Since 2009, around 7000 ships were beached in South Asia with a recorded data of 425 deaths and 329 injuries. The figures on accidents are likely to be much higher, and occupational diseases are not even registered in these statistics and are difficult to monitor.

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