In a bid to assist the seafarers that have been fully affected by the pandemic, the majority of shipping stakeholders have called on shipping bodies to take action.
Now, the United Nations General Assembly has called on UN Member States to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers and to implement relevant measures to allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships, and to ensure access to medical care.
In a resolution adopted on December 1st, the UN addresses the need for an urgent and concrete response from all stakeholders, including the private sector, to resolve the situation of seafarers stranded at sea and/or unable to join ships because of national travel restrictions introduced across the globe as a result of the pandemic.
Moreover, the resolution boosts Governments and relevant stakeholders to take action and implement all the IMO-recognized protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, thereby allowing stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships, taking into account essential preventive measures taken by port states against COVID-19.
Therefore, welcoming this move by the UN, the International Maritime Organization's Secretary-General Kitack Lim stated
Sadly, hundreds of thousands of seafarers, who are vital to maintaining supply chains, remain stranded at sea for months beyond their contracted time. This is causing immense strain, fatigue and exhaustion and is unsustainable. I hope that this call to action will result in positive momentum to resolve the crew change crisis.
The resolution was also welcomed by ICS, as Guy Platten, Secretary General of the ICS, commenting that the inability to rotate crew from their ships and provide safe, frictionless transport through international borders risks the passage of trade that all our economies rely on.
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