The crew change crisis caused by COVID-19 restrictions continues to cause challenges, despite some improvement in the numbers, the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organization has warned.
In a statement, Secretary General Kitack Lim said that according to industry analysis, the numbers of seafarers requiring repatriation after finishing their contracts had declined from around 400,000 in September 2020, to around 200,000 as of March 2021.
However, this number could rise again, while issues around vaccination need to be resolved.
«Now, more than ever, seafarers need to be designated as key workers to ensure priority vaccination and access to safe transit and travel,» Mr. Lim said.
Mr. Lim also added that we cannot be complacent, as fewer than 60 countries so far have heeded the call for seafarers to be designated as key workers. For this reason he urged more countries to do so, in order to resolve this crisis and ensure seafarers are treated fairly.
«Governments should also identify and prepare for the challenges of the vaccination of seafarers who spend long periods of time away from their home countries. We need to continue to work together to develop relevant protocols and guidance around vaccine certification. This is particularly important as any barriers to travel created by national vaccine protocols may further complicate an already difficult crew-change situation»
the Secretary General highlighted.
«On our voyage through this pandemic, which has been challenging for the whole world, I recognize that many seafarers have endured intense hardship as they have worked to keep trade flowing. I wholeheartedly thank seafarers for this.» Photos: IMO