UN Human Rights Day puts the global spotlight on the importance of human rights in the post-COVID recovery. IMO is highlighting the plight of the hundreds of thousands of seafarers who are still stranded at sea and has issued a strong call for their fundamental rights to be respected.
It is estimated that 400,000 seafarers are currently stranded on ships beyond the end of their original contracts and unable to be repatriated, due to COVID-related travel restrictions. Some have now been working at sea for over 18 months, well beyond the 11-month limit set out in ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). A similar number of seafarers are stuck at home, unable to join ships and provide for their families.
In a statement issued on Human Rights Day (10 December), IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim invited everyone in the logistics and supply chains to stand up for human rights across the maritime sector. “Sadly, we have seen human rights of seafarers, fishers and other marine workers put in jeopardy during the pandemic,” Mr Lim said. “This is a clear human rights issue. This is causing immense strain, fatigue and exhaustion and is unsustainable.”
People in the maritime sector have been on the frontline during the pandemic, delivering food, medicines and essential goods across the globe. However, seafarers cannot stay at sea indefinitely. The Secretary-General warned that failure to protect the rights of seafarers, fishers and other marine personnel will jeopardise the safety of shipping and have a detrimental effect on global supply chains.
Seafarers tell their pandemic stories in new IMO video
To help increase awareness of the issue, IMO has launched a video featuring seafarers who describe the challenges they have faced due to the pandemic, and the impacts of the resulting crew change crisis on their physical and mental health.
Marine Insight does not own the rights of the video.