Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies. However, the crisis has led to difficult working conditions for seafarers, including uncertainties and difficulties about port access, re-supply, crew changeovers and repatriation.
In his Day of the Seafarer message, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlights the unique and essential work of seafarers: “Just like other key workers, seafarers are on the front line in this global fight. They deserve our thanks. But they also need – and deserve – quick and decisive humanitarian action from governments everywhere, not just during the pandemic, but at all times”.
The 2020 Day of the Seafarer campaign pays tribute to those who work as seafarers, acknowledging their sacrifice and the unique issues they face. Many seafarers are away from home for months and are unsure when they will be able to return home due to travel restrictions. We are also aware that some are treated harshly – trafficked onto boats, receiving unjust wages, forced to live and work in unsafe conditions for extended periods of time.
Today we give thanks for the work of seafarers especially in this time of the pandemic.
We will continue to advocate and pray that seafarers everywhere be treated with the respect and dignity they deserve so that they can continue to provide their vital services.