The heads of the maritime, labour and aviation organisations of the United Nations have issued a plea for urgent action on crew changes and for keyworker designation.

In a joint statement, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) said that a large number of seafarers have had to extend their service after many months at sea. In mid-June around 150,000 seafarers will require international flights to ensure crew changeovers can take place.

“For humanitarian reasons – and the need to comply with international safety and employment regulations – crew changes cannot be postponed indefinitely,” the statement said. “We are seeking the support of governments to facilitate crew changes, operations essential to maintain the global cargo supply chains and operations related to humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights.”

The three organisations urge “keyworker” designation for seafarers, along with personnel from the marine, fishing, offshore energy, aviation, air cargo supply chain, and ports sectors, regardless of nationality.

These workers should be exempt from travel restrictions, to ensure crew changes can be carried out and that they have access to emergency medical treatment and, if necessary, to facilitate emergency repatriation.

The statement can be seen here.