Insight. Concerns of a Seafarer during COVID-19.


8 April 2020

“We guys are fully exhausted and already [have] completed our contract…”

London. UK. In the past two weeks, Human Rights at Sea has been contacted by seafarers from around the world highlighting their concerns and plight in relation to COVID-19. Many of their principle concerns have revolved around not being heard, not being well-represented and not having an individual voice.

In the recent HRAS editorial titled: ‘COVID-19: Fact Suppression or Careless Under-reporting of Seafarer’s Struggles?‘ on 29 March 2020, the CEO delivered an opinion based on facts in light of industry challenges that there were no “bad cases” being recorded, but which flew in the face of the information coming into the charity, noting that Human Rights at Sea is not a frontline welfare organisation.

Highlighting the need to ‘balance the narrative’ and tell the emerging ‘good, bad and ugly’ issues raised reflecting the ground-truth realities of this global pandemic, today, the charity issues a further example of the genuine concerns of a Third Engineer sailing on an oil tanker, received on Saturday 4 March. His identity and location has been protected due to his concern of being victimised and black-listed for speaking out.

“We are facing alot of problem on ship due to corona.
1- We are not supposed to go on shore leave.
2- Loading master, agent or ship chandler – anyone visit[ing the] ship may be the carrier of covid-19.
3- A lot of fear in the crew due to covid-19 and the vaccine is not available onboard.
I have completed near about 8 months, my contract was 7 plus one. Its too long [the longest] contract of my sailing career. My family is waiting at home, my mother  is having health issues, my wife is managing the things alone. No one can play my role in my family. In this pandemic situation [my] family need me. Everything I can’t share with u sir, but family needs me. They all are totally scared due to covid-19.
Sir, onboard ship everyone is making money either ship owner manager or charterer, loading master is coming onboard loading and discharging going on. Ship business is going on. As we oppose the captain for not allow anyone to come onboard for the sake of ship staff safety, but no one listens to us. They are not bother[ed] about crew health. We guys are fully exhausted and already [have] completed our contract as we talk to [the] captain he is not forwarding our letter or sending mail to company for our sign-off.
Sir we are totally stuck onboard and no hope for sign off.
Kindly do some needful for us.
Thanking you.”
It is well-noted that the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and has been internationally recognised as such. Nonetheless, crew and especially extended crew who remain onboard are under increasing mental stress, worry and concern not just for themselves and their situation, but for their families in their absence of being at home. They remain concerned about who is going onboard, if they are a COVID-19 carrier and if they could spread the virus to the crew. Further, concerns of not being heard, properly represented onboard, and their positions being ignored, continues to raise the worrying increase in the commercial over welfare focus for the very seafarers which keep the global industry running on a day-to-day basis. Human Rights at Sea continues to closely work and liaise with maritime welfare organisations.

Human Rights at Sea reserves the absolute right to freely and independently review, comment and report on matters affecting the human rights, including labour rights, of seafarers, fishers and their dependents who voluntary approach the charity for support in line with the organisation’s charitable objectives.

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