Five staff agencies in the United Nations have openly called for seafarers to be vaccinated.
By Michael McGrady, Maritime Direct Americas & Pacific Correspondent
GENEVA — The heads of at least five United Nations organizations have all asked for the maritime and air transport industries to prioritize the COVID-19 vaccination, given their key role in supporting global trade and mobility.
According to the UN agencies, “maritime and air transport rely on seafarers and aircrew.”
Due to this need, these individuals are key and essential workers and should travel across borders. While it runs counter to the World Health Organization’s recommendations, crews’ present need to change should top the list of concerns for national leaders.
A press statement from the United Nations cites leadership from the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Labor Organization, the International Maritime Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and the World Health Organization.
“Maritime and air transport rely on seafarers and aircrew,” the UN said. “They are key workers required to travel across borders at all times, which may result in the need for them to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for entry in some countries.”
International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) chief Guy Platten announced his support for the UN agencies.
“To date, shipping’s ongoing crew change crisis has been largely still invisible to the wider public,” he said, adding that crews are “working hard around the globe to keep global trade moving, with 200,000 seafarers currently being impacted by overly harsh restrictions which stop them boarding or disembarking ships.”
Platten added: “The ongoing Suez Canal incident has reminded governments and the markets just how important global shipping is to the supply chains. Seafarers are continuing to work to maintain global trade through exceptional circumstances, and the Suez incident is only going to exacerbate the already dire crew change crisis. Seafarers must not be forgotten as soon as the canal is open again, and we call on governments to urgently act on these important recommendations.”