IMO announced that about 200,000 of the 400,000 seamen who were stranded on the sea due to pandemic have returned to their homes
The number of seamen who have to return to their country after their contract was ended declined from 400,000 in September 2020 to approximately 200,000 in March 2021 and a similar number is expected to join ships.
Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of IMO, said that one contributing factor to the decline was the adoption of the UN House resolution, calling on the UN Member States to appoint seamen and other sea crew as key workers. Noting that this was achieved through joint efforts of governments, ship owners and other institutions, Lim warned that there was no room for peace of mind yet.
Although the numbers may be a little optimistic about solving the problem, particularly as governments continue to impose stricter border control and travel restrictions due to the new COVID-19 variants, there is growing concern that this number may rise again.
There is concern about travel restrictions
Indicating that the seamen must be recognized as key employees by all countries, Guy Platten, Secretary-General of ICS, said, “The crew change crisis has not been solved but has become more manageable. However, there is great concern about the increasing travel restrictions, which are imposed by governments in response to new variants.”
‘Governments will not be able to vaccinate their citizens without seamen’
Stephen Cotton, Secretary-General of ITF, said, “Unless the governments abandon their protective positions, they have held for more than 12 months, and allow seamen to be given priority for actual free movement and vaccines, the situation unfortunately may get out of control again.”