UN Adopts Seafarer Resolution as Union Calls for Home for the Holidays
The plight of seafarers caught at sea or unable to reach their ships to start work due to the travel restrictions and regulations related to the pandemic remains a concern for the organizations representing the seafarers. The United Nations General Assembly acted today to help the seafarers while one of the unions launched a new campaign tied to the upcoming holiday season.
In a resolution to address challenges faced by seafarers, the United Nations General Assembly on December 1 adopted a resolution calling on member states to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers. Saying that it recognizes the need for an urgent and concrete response, the United Nations resolution calls for the implementation of relevant measures to allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships, and to ensure access to medical care. The resolution also encourages governments and relevant stakeholders to implement IMO-recognized protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Welcoming the adoption of the resolution, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General Kitack Lim added, "I am grateful to those countries who have already taken steps to designate seafarers as key workers and to all UN agencies and industry partners who have been working tirelessly to find ways to resolve the difficult situation. This is a human rights issue. Seafarers' lives are being made impossible through the crew change difficulties and this can only have a detrimental effect on ship safety and on the supply chain, the longer the situation continues."
Despite the efforts by some nations to facilitate crew changes, the IMO, unions and other organizations continue to estimate that hundreds of thousands of seafarers have found themselves caught on their ships far beyond the expirations of the contracts. A similar number is also caught at home unable to reach the ships to begin work and relieve the crew, many of whom went to sea before travel restrictions were imposed and borders and ports closed.