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ITF calls on governments to allow seafarers emergency medical treatment ashore

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The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) have called on governments to respect the rights of seafarers to emergency medical treatment ashore.

With restrictions across the globe on seafarers coming ashore due to the COVID-19 pandemic the JNG and ITF have highlighted cases where even seafarers requiring urgent medical attention have been denied to come ashore.

In one case a seafarer sharp pain in his left eye and there were concerns for their sight and recommended immediate medical evacuation for appropriate treatment.

“Unfortunately, the local Indonesian port authorities refused the seafarer to be disembarked despite the efforts made by the port agent, the P&I Club and the embassy. After strong intervention by the ITF affiliate in Indonesia, Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia (KPI), the port authorities in Morowali, Indonesia, finally agreed for the seafarer to disembark and receive medical care,” the JNG and ITF said.

In another case a seafarer the signs of a stroke and a doctor Global Voyager Assistance confirmed that the seafarer should immediately be sent to a hospital as it was a life or death situation.

“Alarmingly, the local port authorities refused two requests from the Master for medical evacuation due to Covid-19 restrictions. ITF affiliates, the Seafarers Union of Russia and the KPI in Indonesia actively intervened with the responsible authorities in Russia and Indonesia, and supported by the ITF and the respective UN agencies including the ILO and IMO, were able to get the seafarer disembarked and taken to a hospital after almost four days since the initial request was made,” the JNG and ITF stated.

While the two cases highlighted were in Indonesia the JNG and ITF said there were more examples of seafarers being denied medical treatment ashore.

“Governments cannot use the current coronavirus to refuse seafarers’ human rights as enshrined in international and national legislation,” they stated.

“The maritime social partners, the JNG and the ITF, urgently call on governments to step up and respect seafarers’ right to medical care and treatment.”

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