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LES ECHOS

Kafkaesque Fate For Crew Of Moroccan Ferries Stuck in France

Three Moroccan ferries, seized in order to pay their company’s debts, have been forced to anchor in the French coastal city of Sète for more than five months. Some 200 crew members are living in worsening conditions, with no way out.

The Bni N'sar in the harbor of Sète (Youtube)
The Bni N'sar in the harbor of Sète (Youtube)
Florence Aubenas

SÈTE - A waiter enters the officers' mess hall and, very formally, lays down a plate of lentils and mutton. Under a portrait of the Moroccan royal family, a clock strikes noon, lunchtime aboard the Bni N'sar. Near the ship's empty swimming pool, sailors – each with his own task – are working busily with tools, ropes and other equipment, as if this were just an ordinary day.

Except it's not. In its own way, the Bni N'sar is sinking – and everyone knows it. Of course, this isn't one of those epic catastrophes that involve a brutal storm or a deadly run in with an iceberg. Instead, the Bni N'sar is in the midst of a motionless shipwreck, one that's being caused not by mother nature, but by people in suits and ties.

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Work In Progress

Work → In Progress: The Ripples Of Ukraine War On The World Of Work

Jobs for Ukrainian refugees, too busy to quit in Hong Kong, the rise of 'asynchronous' work....and more

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the working world — still recovering from the global pandemic, no less — was dealt a sizeable blow, from ripple effects of unemployment to supply chain disruptions to office campaigns to support the victims of the war.

Of course, the most immediate impact of the war is inside Ukraine itself, which UN News estimates has lost 4.8 million jobs. The immediate impact has also been felt across the global economy, as energy embargoes and grain blockades have undermined the most basic elements of life. Meanwhile, the influx of refugees has put newfound pressure on labor markets in certain countries.

But as the war unfolds before us on our screens, business in Western countries have also felt compelled to get involved, often with spontaneous initiatives to offer help. In the UK, for example, several companies have put pressure on the government to make it easier on refugees, and have offered jobs themselves to Ukrainian refugees. Some are going even further by offering relocation and other assistance.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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