Support for seafarers during COVID-19 pandemic

An estimated 400,000 seafarers are currently trapped onboard ships beyond the end of their contracted periods and unable to be repatriated due to COVID-related travel restrictions, according to IMO.  A similar number of seafarers are unable to join ships to relieve fatigued crew and earn a living.IMO is calling on all Governments who have not already done so to designate seafarers and marine personnel as key workers, giving them priorities for travel, transit and vaccination to facilitate crew changes. A reference set of protocols to ensure safe ship crew changes and travel during the COVID-19 pandemic was approved by the Maritime Safety Committee at its 102nd session in November. The protocol, and a number of other informative documents, are available at a special COVID-19 page at the IMO’s website on this link.

IBIA’s Director, Unni Einemo, joined an IMO fundraiser for the Mission to Seafarers (MtS) in September this year for the third year in a row. She says: “The team pledged to do 100 km each. I went beyond our “contract” and did more. So many seafarers have gone far, far beyond their contracts due to the ongoing crew change crisis. The MtS can’t get them home, but it provides care and support for seafarers.” You can read more on the fundraising page, which is still open for donations.

MtS has created a ‘Global Champions Unite’ challenge to raise funds for their new on-line welfare service. You can donate or become a fundraiser by setting yourself a fitness challenge on this link. Other global organisations supporting seafarers’ welfare include Sailors’ SocietyApostleship of the Sea and the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN).

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