North P&I calls maritime stakeholders to seize the opportunity provided by a UK Government summit on July 9th to establish an international action plan to deal with the crew repatriation crisis resulting from COVID-19.
Led by UK Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the virtual event will be the first international summit addressing the negative effect the pandemic has on seafarers’ working conditions, uniting representatives from the International Maritime Organization, the International Chamber of Shipping, and other associations. IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim is expected to highlight the need to safeguard crews and the duties of states towards seafarers.
Referring to the summit, North CEO Paul Jennings comments that
The challenges brought by COVID-19 continue to have a significant impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of crew … Recent weeks have seen welcome action, especially as air routes have opened up, and certainly IG club correspondents have been working tirelessly at the sharp end to get things moving. However, this is not simply about logistics and good will.
It is reported that the UK Government has played its role by helping more than 7,000 cruise ship crew return home, regardless of nationality or circumstance.
Jennings, who is also current Chair of the IG says responses to COVID-19 have included a new tracking tool developed by North for the IG providing daily updates on the virus and new guidance to crew from all 13 IG clubs on social distancing, as well as ongoing support to all IG Members.
He concluded that
We support the UK government summit which seeks to find practical steps to the crew repatriation crisis. We are all aware that it is challenging and can take time to find solutions that are globally acceptable but that is not an excuse for inaction.