Thousands of stranded seafarers seek to go home!
Crews of merchant ships and cruise vessels are stranded aboard ship, with no way to either travel home or even go ashore at the closest port due to COVID-19 restrictions...
10 July 2020 - 10:29 - Update: 10 July 2020 - 10:32
Crews of merchant ships and cruise vessels are stranded aboard ship, with no way to either travel home or even go ashore at the closest port due to COVID-19 restrictions — some have been stuck aboard ship for months.
“It is an untenable situation, and there is a danger that it will lead to shortages if work stops. Today, crews cannot travel to where they need to work,” comments Alexandros Josephides, deputy director general of the Cyprus Chamber of Shipping.
Consider that about 90 per cent of global trade by volume, from food and medical goods, to energy and raw materials, travels by ship. In 2018, world seaborne trade volumes rose to an all-time high of 11 billion tonnes.
Yet the thousands of seafarers affected are not receiving the help they need, Josephides warns. Countries like China and the Philippines, which supply large numbers of seafarers, have thousands stranded offshore yet will not allow them in.
“Seafarers are tested for the novel coronavirus before they get on board ships. While onboard, they have little chance of being exposed to the virus. So there is no real danger in allowing them to travel,” Josephides points out.
On 9 July, a Ministerial Summit will take place in London, at which all of the major NGOs and other related organisations will take part. A plea for action is expected from the conference.
More than a third of the 6,600 seafarers currently at sea have been serving “well above their normal contract length,” according to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
“Fatigue and issues with mental health are increasing. For safety, regulatory and humanitarian reasons, crew changes cannot be postponed indefinitely,” Josephides says.
Some seafarers have been onboard for more than a year, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Many have been prevented by governments from coming ashore even for a walk and in some cases, he says, refused emergency medical care.
Source: CyprusMail (Click for futher of the article)
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