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ISLAMABAD, Jun 8 (APP):Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Syed Ali Haider Zaidi on Monday wrote a letter to International Maritime Organization (IMO) for facilitation of crew changes and repatriation of seafarers and marine personnel in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter available with APP, the minister said, “I was writing a letter in reference to the joint statement date May 26, 2020 issued by IMO-ICAO-ILO on designation of seafarers as key workers and on facilitation of crew changes in ports and airports”.
“I would like to place on record my gratitude and appreciation for the consistent efforts of IMO to address the difficulties faced by seafarers globally and facilitating the seafarers who have completed their contracts to go back to their homes after long hours of duty on board”, the minister said.
He said that “I understand these are challenging times for many seafarers as both of their physical and mental health is being put to test”.
He said that the critical issue is increasingly taking on a humanitarian dimension for those seafarers who have already spent many months at sea and who urgently need to be repatriated to join their families.
“Apart from the need for shipping companies to comply with international regulations and contractual obligations, the extended service periods on board are already having an adverse impact on the wellbeing of ship crew and most importantly, safe ship operations” he added in a letter.
According to letter, the minister said that needless to mention that the maritime trade can continue uninterrupted only when worldwide crew changes are resumed and the seafarers who have completed their contracts are facilitated to join their families back home.
Syed Ali Haider Zaidi said that to achieve this, it is essential that restrictions on international flights operations to the extent of seafarers and marine personal are removed regardless of their nationality.
He said that government of Pakistan has already lifted restrictions on international air travel and remains committed to facilitation of crew changeovers and their repatriation, adding that “I would request that IMO member nations who still continue to have international travel restrictions in place are urged to address the issue immediately and facilitate air travel of the stranded seafarers and marine personnel to their home countries”.
The minister said that government of Pakistan through the ministry of Maritime Affairs always looks toward the IMO in resolving the above issues.
He said that the ministry of Maritime Affairs avails itself of this opportunity to renew the assurances of its highest consideration.
The minister said in a letter that he was personally available for assistance, if required.