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News: UN agencies urge member states to resolve the humanitarian crew change crisis

18 September 2020

UN agencies and programmes involved in the maritime sector, human rights, trade, travel and transportation have called on all UN Member States, through a joint statement, to take urgent action to resolve the humanitarian crew change crisis faced by the world's seafarers.

Calling it a humanitarian crisis, the Joint Statement issued by IMO, ILO and ITF amongst other UN agencies calls on all Governments to immediately recognize seafarers as “key workers”, and to take swift and effective action to eliminate obstacles for crew changes and  ensuring maritime safety and facilitation of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Joint Statement outlines a series of 15 different and related measures that Governments must take, including:

• designating seafarers as ʺkey workersʺ providing an essential service, to facilitate safe and unhindered embarkation and disembarkation from their ships;
• undertaking national consultations involving all relevant ministries, agencies and departments, to identify obstacles to crew changes, and establish and implement measurable, time-bound plans to increase the rate of such crew changes;
• implementing protocols for crew changes, drawing upon the latest version of the Recommended framework of protocols for ensuring safe ship crew changes and travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic;
• refraining from authorising any new extension of seafarers' employment agreements beyond the maximum period of 11 months, in accordance with the MLC, 2006; and
• facilitating the diversion of ships from their normal trading routes to ports where crew changes are permitted.

Link to the IMO press release and the joint statement are available for download on the right.