IMO seeks UN support for declaring seafarers key workers

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IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has asked the United Nations system agencies to support IMO in its request to governments to declare seafarers, port personnel and other crucial maritime workers as key personnel. Lim made the plea during a virtual meeting on 1 April with other UN chiefs and the UN Secretary-General. The meeting addressed the impact of COVID-19 on, among other things, disruption and restrictions to travel, trade flows, global logistics, supply of food, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

During the meeting, Lim highlighted the importance of welfare and well-being of maritime personnel and particularly seafarers and the significance of crew changes to support the global supply chain. He also highlighted the major restrictions to crew changes due to travel bans and restrictions that are being increasingly imposed by governments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lim reiterated his message that shipping is a vital artery for the economy to enable the global supply chain and global trade flows, including in particular urgently needed pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and food supply. Seaborne trade is still flowing but challenges are growing due to restrictions being introduced by countries. Lim added that IMO and the maritime industry were committed to ensuring and supporting global trade flows and the global supply chain.

IMO Secretary-Lim was participating in the meeting of the expanded UN Senior Management Group (SMG) chaired by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The meeting was attended by members of the SMG as well as heads of UN specialised agencies of FAO, IFAD, ICAO, IMO, ILO, ITU, WHO and WMO.

Opening the meeting, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stressed the importance of and need for coordinated global, but also regional and local approach to address this unprecedented crisis and appealed to all UN-system agencies to work together for a coordinated response.