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HRAS overwhelmed by emails and texts from seafarers unable to disembark

Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) has highlighted the plight of seafarers unable to disembark at the end of their contracts because of crew change prohibitions in many ports.

“We have been overwhelmed by emails and texts from seafarers who have been forced to stay onboard and work without their consent,” said David Hammond, ceo and founder of HRAS.

A smaller number of crew have been able to leave their ships but cannot get home and are stranded ashore without pay and facing hotel bills, he added.

In another emerging trend, HRAS has been deluged with reports from seafarers who have returned home to India and elsewhere only to be ostracised by family and communities because of Covid-19 fears.

HRAS has made three recommendations. First, seafarers must be given accurate facts about the virus, including the symptoms, how it can be transmitted, how it can be contained and periods of self and family isolation.

Second, they should be counselled to manage expectations on returning home, including understanding their dependents’ fears.

Third, said Hammond, “education is key for seafarers, fishers and their dependents to ensure that individuals are empowered with correct knowledge and so that reintegration and issues of social exclusion by family members and local communities are minimised.”