Four United Nations agencies have issued a joint statement urging stakeholders to collaborate to prevent undue hardship to seafarers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The joint statement recommends priority vaccination of seafarers:
The International Labour Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have issued a joint statement asking stakeholders to take action to support the world’s 1.9 million seafarers from being unduly impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions.
The statement comes in the wake of the Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern (VOC), which has, once again, caused many countries to close their borders, curtail crew movements, require additional vaccinations and approved paperwork, and, in many cases, deny seafarers access to appropriate medical care. The UN agencies warn that the impact of these actions would not only cause seafarers (many of whom are from developing countries) undue hardship but could also create supply chain disruptions that would affect the global population.
“The full impact of the Omicron variant and related response measures on crew changes is not yet clear and further VOCs may yet emerge,” the statement says.
The United Nations agencies call for common and proactive approaches to address evolving challenges to international shipping and its key workers, minimize adverse impacts on seafarers and their families, as well as on global trade, supply chains and sustainable development, while continuing to protect local communities.