Seafarers situation at risk warns UN agencies amid Covid-19 surge

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Situation of Seafarers has been put at risk after it was found that a crew was stranded at sea due to covid-19 restrictions and the United Nations agencies fear that it could further escalate the matter and increase the number of those infected with the virus.

Following this neglect towards seafarer’s, the UN agencies have released guidelines to help supply chain enterprisers protest seafarer’s rights. They fear that the current total of them infected by Covid-19 is 200,000 and if the situation continues to be like this then it can aggravate further.

The new guidelines are aimed at ensuring that rights of seafarers are safeguarded and are not hampered and special consideration on their physical and mental health is also given. These agencies stress on the fact that they also are eligible to take care of their family and live with freedom and their rights, n matter what, should not be taken away.

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Earlier last month, many of the UN agencies were concerned about reports of seafarers working beyond the 11-month maximum period of service, effectively breaching the time limit set by the ILO Maritime Labour Convention (MLC). The concern of these agencies grew after they found out that companies engaged in international trade have been avoiding chartering vessels, which the crew of seafare’s changes.

Some of these companies have also demanded that no crew member should be changed and they even made a clause for it. This means that there is a lot of pressure on the maritime industry and Covid-19 situation is not helping either. Hence, the tool designed by the UN agencies provides guidance to the cargo owners and other parties such as charters and logistic providers.

All these supplier parties will be responsible to conduct due diligence across their supply chains and they will be identifying all the reasons, if any, behind the exploitation of seafarers and the community is impacted by covid-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 seafarer’s crew change crisis has put the spot on one the weakest links in global supply chains. This is an urgent and grave humanitarian and human rights crisis that is impacting the lives of thousands of maritime workers,” said Muchele Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights. IMP secretary general Kitack Lim also advocated protection of seafarers rights saying that everyone involved in this process of shipping and logistics chain should ensure that seafarer’s rights are not exploited. The top official also added that through this tool, cargo owners will be directed in a better way and will know how to implement human rights to all sections of the community.

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