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Coronavirus: Seafarers stuck at sea ‘a humanitarian crisis

Post Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2021


The fate of more than 200,000 seafarers who play a crucial role in keeping global trade flowing is being labelled a "humanitarian crisis at sea".

More than 300 firms and organisations are urging for them to be treated as "key workers", so they can return home without risking public health.

More than 90% of global trade - from household goods to medical supplies - is moved by sea.

But governments have banned crew from coming ashore amid Covid-19 fears.

Large firms including shipping titan AP Moller-Maersk, oil firms BP and Shell, consumer giant Unilever and mining groups Rio Tinto and Vale, as well as maritime transporters, unions, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and other supply chain partners have signed the Neptune Declaration on Seafarer Wellbeing and Crew Change.They are calling for all countries to designate seafarers as key workers and implement crew change protocols.

The signees of the Neptune Declaration are warning global leaders that ignoring the risk to crews' mental and physical wellbeing threatens global supply chains, which are crucial to vaccinating the world from coronavirus.

The firms and organisations hope that world leaders, gathering at this year's virtual Davos Forum, will heed their call.

"Unified, prompt action from governments and other key stakeholders is needed to protect the lives and livelihoods of the 1.6 million seafaring men and women who serve us all across the seas, and who continue to face extreme risk to their safety and earnings," said WEF's head of supply chain and transport Margi Van Gogh.

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