Led by UK Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst, the event will take place virtually next month, bringing together UN, political and business leaders from across the globe. IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim is expected to give an opening address, stressing the urgency of the problem.
It is now estimated there are more than 1.2m seafarers at sea at any one time and currently 200,000 seafarers due to change over, including up to 2,000 from the UK.
“Seafarers have worked tirelessly during this pandemic,” said Tolhurst, “but thousands have been left with no way of coming ashore when faced with border restrictions.”
The UK Government has already helped more than 7,000 cruiseship crew get home regardless of their nationality or employment, the Minister pointed out, with the UK having remained open for seafarers to come and either stay on vessels, go ashore, take shore leave or be repatriated, abiding by national public health requirements and social distancing.
“We welcome the announcement to hold a virtual summit on this critical crew change issue,” commented Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping.
“The leadership provided by the UK to cut through this red tape is just the sort of initiative that is needed to free the thousands of seafarers who are trapped onboard ships across the world.”
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