A SEAFARERS charity based in Crosby is calling for urgent action to help people working at sea on the frontline of the pandemic.
Liverpool Seafarers Centre believes seafarers need our support now more than ever, and their message coincided with the annual Day of the Seafarer, which was held last month on Thursday, June 25.
The centre is urging countries like India and the Philippines to listen to the demands of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to repatriate seafarers stranded on ships indefinitely during the COVID-19 crisis.
The IMO estimates that from mid-June, as many as 300,000 seafarers each month will require international flights to enable crew changeovers.
Liverpool Seafarers Centre has been calling for help for seafarers throughout the pandemic, fearing the impact on the physical and mental health of the many thousands stranded on board ships long after their working contracts have ended.
John Wilson, chief executive of the charity, has been collecting and distributing donations including toiletries, confectionery, food and games, to seafarers but says more must be done to assist those affected by the pandemic travel restrictions.
Mr Wilson said: “We mark Day of the Seafarer every year, but the event has taken on extra significance in 2020 as we consider the plight of the thousands of workers stranded on ships around the world.
“It is of paramount importance that the home countries of our seafarers relax their travel restrictions to enable them to return home to their families when their duties have ended. Seafarers should be classed as international key workers and afforded the same rights as all key workers.
“We have already seen the effects on the seafarers we have visited, with many left feeling isolated and depressed by the current situation, and we can only imagine the long-term effects this will have on mental health.
“I back the UK Chamber’s plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the IMO’s demands for countries to relax their travel restrictions to provide some hope to the thousands of seafarers.”