Hundreds of thousands of seafarers are stranded at sea due to the pandemic.

GENEVA, Switzerland – With hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded at sea due to the pandemic, a new international agreement recognizes them as key workers who should be protected. The International Labour Organization has expressed support for new international measures to protect the rights of seafarers, stranded at sea because of the COVID-19 crisis.

It welcomed a joint statement signed by more than a dozen countries that gives seafarers enhanced rights as key workers. The new measures, also supported by other UN agencies and international organizations, enable seafarers to be repatriated and move more freely during the pandemic.

The joint statement was signed during a virtual International Maritime Summit, hosted by the United Kingdom government, which discussed the global crew change crisis that has left more than 200,000 seafarers stranded at sea due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some have been confined to vessels for months because of restrictions on international travel and measures to contain the virus.

The agreement will lead to the opening of foreign borders for seafarers and to an increase in the number of commercial flights, which will speed up repatriation efforts.