Malta is among 15 countries which have called for a special meeting with the UN’s shipping agency – the International Maritime Organisation – to discuss the safety of ships and their crews sailing through the Black Sea and Sea of Azov after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing dangers to vessels.
Many shipping firms have suspended sailings to affected Black Sea ports and other terminals in Ukraine.
Insurance premiums for voyages have soared since Russia’s invasion, an action Moscow calls a “special operation”.
An Estonian-owned cargo ship sank on Thursday off Ukraine’s major Black Sea port of Odessa, hours after a Bangladeshi vessel was hit by a missile or bomb at another port.
This followed at least three other ships being hit by projectiles in recent days.
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, Britain and the United States jointly called for the meeting, which is also backed by Ukraine.
The International Maritime Organisation has 175 member-states and three associate members and is tasked with safety and security of international shipping.
On Wednesday the International Transport Workers’ Federation union and other bodies designated sections of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov as “warlike operations areas”, which entitles seafarers to refuse to sail to the region, among other rights.