Liverpool charity urges support for stranded seafarers

By Simon Hart

Liverpool Seafarers Centre (LSC) has urged churchgoers to keep stranded seafarers in their prayers with an estimated 300,000 still awaiting repatriation owing to the Covid-19 crisis.
The Crosby-based ecumenical charity echoed the International Maritime Organization’s plea to governments to resolve the crew-change crisis which has had a devastating impact on the mental health of so many stuck on ships because of travel restrictions. LSC chief executive John Wilson asked churchgoers to continue to remember those who make a living from the sea as well as to lobby their MPs.

Ahead of World Maritime Day on 24 September, the IMO asked governments to designate seafarers as key workers and implement its protocols to allow safe crew changes and remove restrictions on flights, travel and medical care. At an International Maritime Summit in July, 13 out of 15 countries had agreed to exemptions yet subsequent reports said most of the 13 had not moved to put immigration, travel or health procedures in place to facilitate the transfer of crews.

LSC has been liaising with local authorities on repatriation and also lobbying for measures to give greater rights to those working beyond their contracts. Wilson said: 'We’re now six months into the pandemic with no end in sight for the thousands trapped on board ships long beyond the time their contracts should have ended. Those workers that we’ve visited describe feeling forgotten and abandoned. They’re missing their families and home life, and the isolation they feel from living in cramped conditions for such a lengthy period is impacting on their mental health.

'For those unable to get to work, there’s the added blow of being unable to earn money, which will prove difficult in these troubling times,' he added. 'We’re calling on governments to do what they said they would and help these vital workers return home.'