New Delhi: The millions of people have been trapped in the sea due to the COVID-19 has closed the borders of countries for the past seven months. People are working in thousands of ships operating under sea trade, which are forced to remain at sea after the borders are closed. There are many of them who have been stranded in the middle of the vast sea for almost a year. All of them are restless to go home and meet their family. Many countries have opened their borders for air service, but in spite of this nothing has been done so far for the ships standing at sea and the people present in them.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutarais has expressed concern over this. He said that there are about three lakh people who have been stuck on ships due to lockdown and closure of maritime borders of countries. Everyday of these people is passing in the hope that soon they will be able to go back to their homes. He has appealed to the whole world to help inn providing relief to these people on the ships who are unable to meet their families due to this pandemic.
Gutarais has also appealed to the world community to formally declare these sailors and other maritime workers as Key Workers. Some have started feeling mentally and physically tired. Some of them may also have suffered from depression due to their inability to go home. The whole world will have to come forward to help such people at the earliest. Gutarais said that even in the most adverse and challenging circumstances, these sailors played an extraordinary role in maintaining the supply of essential services.
On the occasion of World Maritime Day, the U.N. Secretary-General appealed to the world community to consider how these industries would play a central role in economic recovery and future economic progress in the post COVID-19.
The millions of people of the world are connected to this area. About 80 percent of the world’s total trade is by sea. These people play the most important role in streamlining this trade and supply. These people play an important role in supplying medical equipment during the epidemic, including food, basic necessities and food items all over the world. The United Nations and its partners estimate that nearly three million members of this less-visible region have fallen prey to travel restrictions imposed to prevent COVID-19. According to the UN, this situation is now turning into a humanitarian crisis, security disaster and economic crisis.
Captain Heidi Marjagui and engineer Vikram are among these people. Heidi says that these restrictions have made life on the ship very difficult. Vikram is one of those who tried their best to reach his home in July. He traveled thousands of kilometers by ship to reach home by airplane but still failed. They were not allowed to come out of the ship. Even after this, he continued his efforts and later somehow managed to reach home. However, he had to spend 14 days in Quarantine before meeting family members.
The UN Secretary-General has also expressed concern about this. He has said that 17 months have passed for some of the sailors onboard, which is much more than international standards. Gutarais has appealed that protocols formulated by UN agencies should be implemented. International Marine Life Organization (IMO) Secretary-General and former Marine navigator Kitack Lim says that we all depend on marine sailors. They cannot be left at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic.