Humanitarian crisis overshadows World Maritime Day

Kitack Lim

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim, PHOTO CREDIT: IMO

 

Misery, loneliness and despair are some of the emotions that many seafarers are suffering even as the maritime community marked the 2020 World Maritime Day on Thursday. 

At present, more than 300,000 seafarers have now spent up to 17 months on board ship.

Some of sea-marooned seafarers have developed suicidal intent, according to experts, living on a “board and lodging” basis, unable to send money home to loved ones, or even to communicate with them by telephone or email. They can only imagine the resulting hardship on partners, children and extended families.

Meanwhile, a similar number of seafarers are stuck at home, earning no money, with no prospect of resuming paid work anytime soon. 

In many of the countries, which supply seafarers, there is little, if any, state aid. Their position is almost as perilous. Despite keeping the world’s supply chains running throughout this tumultuous year, seafarers are still not recognised as key workers.