IMO News

12 June 2020, 19:33

UN Secretary-General speaks out on seafarers

UN Secretary-General speaks out on seafarers: UNSG
12 June 2020

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the repatriation of seafarers

The Secretary-General is concerned about the growing humanitarian and safety crisis facing seafarers around the world. As a result of COVID-related travel restrictions, hundreds of thousands of the world’s two million seafarers have been stranded at sea for months. Unable to get off ships, the maximum sea time stipulated in international conventions is being ignored, with some seafarers marooned at sea for 15 months.
Shipping transports more than 80% of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery. This ongoing crisis will have direct consequences on the shipping industry. The world could not function without the efforts of seafarers yet their contributions go largely unheralded; they deserve far greater support at any time but especially now.
The Secretary-General calls on all countries to formally designate seafarers and other marine personnel as “key workers” and ensure crew changeovers can safely take place.
United Nations agencies, including the International Labour Organisation and the International Maritime Organization, have worked with the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation to develop protocols for crew changeovers, taking full account of public health concerns. The Secretary-General calls on all governments to urgently implement these protocols, allowing stranded seafarers to repatriate and others to join ships.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General 

Contact Information

Natasha Brown
Media and Communications Officer
+44 (0)20 7587 3274

Notes to editors

UN statement

Crew changes are essential for seafarers – IMO has circulated a guidebook for the shipping community on how to effect crew change in Singapore @MPA_Singapore download here:

Act on seafarer crew changes to avert humanitarian crisis, IMO Secretary-General urges  Governments need to urgently act to ensure ships’ crew changeovers can take place to keep world trade flowing and avert a humanitarian and ship safety crisis, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has told Member State representatives. Read summary of meeting here: includes update on meetings at IMO

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.22 (11 June 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Singapore Crew Change Guidebook

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.21 (8 June 2020) - Joint statement IMO-UNCTAD – Call for collaborative action in support of keeping ships moving, ports open and cross-border trade flowing during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.20 (5 June 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Accelerating digitalization of maritime trade and logistics – A call to action

  • Circular Letter No.4204/Add.19 (2 June 2020) - Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance for flag States regarding surveys and renewals of certificates during the COVID-19 pandemic

more on COVID-19