In a new statement to shipping, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim reiterated his call on all IMO Member States to support a fair global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, beyond fulfilling their national needs, to ensure seafarers can access vaccines.
appropriate PPE, access to medical care, and sanitation facilities, Mr. Lim said in a statement released on 7 May.he health and safety of the world’s seafarers have to remain the main priority and can only be guaranteed if industry and Member States continue to provide all necessary measures such as testing,
No seafarers should be left behind or forced to forgo their careers because of limited resources in their home country,
He also noted that some key maritime labour supply countries are reliant on the COVAX initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to access vaccines (see video below) and reiterated his call for seafarers and marine personnel to be designated as “key workers”. To date, only 58 of IMO 174 Members have notified that they have designated seafarers as “key workers” (click on image for more):
The designation of seafarers as “key workers” will facilitate their access to vaccination, since most States are prioritizing essential workers in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes, in line with the WHO SAGE Roadmap, Mr. Lim said.
The life and work of seafarers have been affected dramatically by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last quarter of 2020, the estimated number of seafarers globally waiting to either be relieved or join ships stood at 400,000.
Now, in May 2021, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Member States, the shipping industry, social partners and our sister UN agencies, the number is currently estimated to be about 200,000. However, this figure is still unacceptably high and the humanitarian crisis at sea is by no means over,
…Mr. Lim noted.