According to data from crew manning agencies and different shipping companies, 18,000 Indian seafarers stuck at ports globally have been successfully repatriated to India, whereas 4,000 still await repatriation in vessels that are still at sea.
All India Seafarers and General Workers Union’s (AISGWU) Mumbai office has been constantly getting tweets, calls, emails seeking governmental help for repatriation in wake of global restrictions, according to Indian Express.
AISGWU was among the first to draw governmental approach to MV Astoria which has been stuck in Tilbury since the lockdown began in England.
Marine Insight was among the first to publish the story of Astoria’s crew, which even had one Indian crewmember who died awaiting repatriation.
The union said that 495 Indians on board five ships, including four at Tilbury and one at Bristol — are awaiting clearances to return home.
“A calibrated approach is being used and we expect that this will be sorted out over the next 15 days,” said Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar, when commenting about the Astoria crew’s situation.
The President of AISGWU, Sanjay Pawar, said that repatriation was a two-way process. It does not just depend on the Indian government, but also on the country that is hosting the seafarers.
“But this is no ordinary time, crew returning to India also need clearances from the Indian Missions in the countries they will board flights from,” said Pawar.
Indian seafarers account for an enormous 10% of the global seafaring workforce, making it the third-largest country to account for the global chunk.