The Marine Industry stayed afloat throughout 2020, transporting medicines, food and other essential goods across the countries even at times of strict lock-downs. However, the pity is that thousands of seafarers were forced to stay longer in the sea, affecting their physical as well as mental health.
The International Maritime Organisation says that about four lakh seafarers are still on their ships despite their contract ending. It also said that another four lakh are stuck at their homes because of restrictions.
Rights as human beings
The International Maritime Organisation has described the plight of seafarers as an infringement of human rights. IMO head Kitack Lim had requested countries to ensure that the rights to safe and decent work conditions of seafarers are recognized, respected and protected. Lim made the statement on Human Rights Day in December.
The UN quoted Hedi Marzougui, an American captain, as expressing his concerns about mental health exerted on crews by the extended period on board. The captain said that one gets physically fatigued once a person stays out in the ea for a longer time. As hours, weeks and months start to add up, one gets tired and exhausted. All these could lead to accidents at sea, he added.
Captain Marzougui stressed that they also have rights as human beings. He also mentioned that they were not robots and should not be seen as second-class citizens.
The UN International organisation said that only around 45 countries had adopted their call for classifying seafarers and other personnel as “essential workers”.