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Kitack Lim, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has asked the United Nations system agencies to support IMO in its request to governments to declare seafarers, port personnel and other crucial maritime workers as key personnel.
Lim made the plea during a virtual meeting with the UN Secretary-General and other UN chiefs on April 1.
The meeting addressed the impact of COVID-19 on, among other things, disruption and restrictions to travel, trade flows, global logistics, supply of food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
During the meeting, Lim highlighted the importance of welfare and well-being of maritime personnel and particularly seafarers and the significance of crew changes to support the global supply chain. He also highlighted the major restrictions to crew changes due to travel bans and restrictions that are being increasingly imposed by governments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lim reiterated that shipping is a vital artery for the economy to enable the global supply chain and global trade flows, including in particular urgently needed pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and food supply. Seaborne trade is still flowing but challenges are growing due to restrictions being introduced by countries. He added that IMO and the maritime industry are committed to ensuring and supporting global trade flows and the global supply chain.
A few days ago, IMO distributed in a circular letter a series of recommendations for governments and relevant national authorities, proposed by a broad cross-section of global industry associations representing the maritime transportation sector.
The letter specifically calls on governments to designate professional seafarers and marine personnel, regardless of their nationality, as key workers providing an essential service.
It urges governments around the world to develop their policies and measures to protect public health and address COVID-19, without introducing obstacles to ship and port operations, including the movement of seafarers and marine personnel. The letter also encourages governments and national authorities to ensure that all visiting commercial ships continue to have access to berths in port and terminals.
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