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IMO Secretary-General issues message to seafarers

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Dry Bulk,

“You are not alone. You are not forgotten.” So said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim in a message to seafarers everywhere, assuring them that IMO understands the unique problems they face during the coronavirus pandemic and has been working to find solutions for them.

Hundreds of ship sailings have been cancelled as trade has been reduced in line with the slowing global economy and ports all over the world have either closed or drastically cut their operations.

But restrictions on travel and personal movement adopted by most countries have left many seafarers stranded on board ships, unable to disembark or be replaced by relief crews. Others find themselves stuck in hotels, without pay and unable to get flights home.

Estimates suggest that, every month, 100 000 seafarers finish their con-tracts and would normally be flown home - but the coronavirus has had a huge negative impact on this repatriation process.

Since the start of the global lockdown, IMO has been in urgent contact with trade unions, seafarer welfare organisations, shipowners, governments and fellow United Nations agencies, especially the International Labour Organisation, to try and find solutions.

Lim noted the difficulties the maritime industry has faced in conducting crew changeovers, providing medical care for sick and injured crew and allowing for shore leave.

Secretary-General Lim has written to all IMO Member States, urging them to recognise all seafarers as ‘key workers,’ remove any barriers to their documentation and lift national travel restrictions so that they can get home on conclusion of their contracts, and rejoin their families. And, wherever possible, the organisation’s staff have been working round the clock to help bring individual cases to a speedy resolution.

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