The world’s reliance on maritime transport makes it more important than ever to keep ships moving, ports open, cross-border trade flowing and to support ship crew changeovers, the United Nations maritime and trade entities said in a joint statement.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which regulates shipping, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which tracks world trade, reiterated calls for governments to promote crew well-being by allowing crew changes and ensuring seafarers and other maritime personnel have access to documentation and travel options so that they can return home safely.
It is estimated that starting in mid-June 2020, as many as 300 000 seafarers a month will require international flights to enable ships’ crew changeover – about half will travel home by aircraft for repatriation while the other half will join ships. This process is currently hampered by travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, to comply with international safety and employment regulations, and also for humanitarian reasons, crew changes cannot be postponed indefinitely. Access to medical care for sick or injured crew and to medical prescriptions must also be provided.
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