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Djibouti offers crew change support for ships going through strait

By Edith Mutethya in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-06-16 22:25

Djibouti announced at the United Nations office on Monday its readiness to facilitate crew change operations in the country for any ships passing through the Bab el Mandeb Strait, with necessary support provided by the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority.

The country is responding to the joint statement by the International Maritime Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the UN's maritime and trade bodies, respectively, to support crew changes and ensure maritime personnel can return home safely when the time comes to do so.

According to the statement published on June 6, the two organizations acknowledge the critical role of the maritime sector in keeping trade flowing during the global fight against novel coronavirus. 

Travel restrictions imposed due to coronavirus mean crew changes have been delayed but they cannot be postponed indefinitely. It is estimated that starting in mid-June, 300,000 seafarers will require international flights per month to enable ships' crew changeovers and 70,000 cruise ship staff are waiting for their repatriation.

The Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority said it recognizes and is grateful the maritime community continues to provide essential services through the global pandemic to ensure world trade continues to flow. 

The authority is committed to being part of the global solution to support key workers. It calls on other countries to take similar steps to facilitate coordinated support for seafarers around the world and urged all ship-owners to support the effort by availing air repatriation solutions for maritime personnel.

Maritime transport depends on the 2 million seafarers who operate the world's merchant ships, which carry more than 80 percent of global trade by volume, including most of the world's food, energy, raw materials and manufactured goods.

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