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SG/SM/20121
12 June 2020

Secretary-General Says Governments Should Allow Seafarers to Repatriate, Join Ships, as Hundreds of Thousands Remain Stranded at Sea by COVID-19-Related Travel Restrictions

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

The Secretary-General is concerned about the growing humanitarian and safety crisis facing seafarers around the world.  As a result of COVID-related travel restrictions, hundreds of thousands of the world’s 2 million seafarers have been stranded at sea for months.  Unable to get off ships, the maximum sea time stipulated in international conventions is being ignored, with some seafarers marooned at sea for 15 months.

Shipping transports more than 80 per cent of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery.  This ongoing crisis will have direct consequences on the shipping industry.  The world could not function without the efforts of seafarers, yet their contributions go largely unheralded; they deserve far greater support at any time, but especially now.

The Secretary-General calls on all countries to formally designate seafarers and other marine personnel as “key workers” and ensure crew changeovers can safely take place.

United Nations agencies, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), have worked with the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation to develop protocols for crew changeovers, taking full account of public health concerns.  The Secretary-General calls on all Governments to urgently implement these protocols, allowing stranded seafarers to repatriate and others to join ships.

For information media. Not an official record.