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02 March 2021 The on-line newspaper devoted to the world of transports 16:01 GMT+1

February 17, 2021

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Original news
The International Maritime Organization dedicates the World Maritime Theme for 2021 to seafarers

But the problem of crew change continues to be an unresolved problem

Several UN agencies have few tools to intervene effectively in the solution of problems of International. Then some of these have even less. The role International Atomic Energy Agency, for example, is been and is central, more than -- as by his statutes -- to accelerate and increase the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world, especially for prevent the further spread of the use of nuclear energy to military purposes, using the agency's inspectors to make sure that nations not already in possession of weapons nuclear weapons can equip themselves with it. Less incisive, even in a period such as the current one characterized by the very serious problems arising from the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the role of world health organization, a reference to the for governments, but only until the UN institute is used as a scapegoat for the alleged inability to control the health crisis. Much less perceptible, finally, the function of agencies such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO), generally called upon to oversee the safety and security of maritime transport and the prevention of pollution caused by ships, a function that is sensitive only to insiders and much less to governments that care about only that there are ships that can secure trade with abroad.

Some UN agencies, and this is the case with the IMO, in critical situations can only appeal to governments associated nations to implement those measures provided for in the conventions that have been adopted with the member countries' consent. They certainly do not send inspectors to verify that things are going as agreed. Just urge, then. And this the IMO did when it started appearing evident the effect that measures to limit mobility adopted by governments to contain the pandemic have had and are maritime transport: that of forcing seafarers to stay on board their ships, with endless boarding periods, with months now becoming years. And, to be honest, the IMO - for its part - can solicit, but up to a certain point because his task, after all, is not to to protect seafarers, as well as maritime transport. To seafarers the IMO requires qualifications and certifications, i.e. duties, but very little of their rights. In any case, another agency intervenes here the International Labour Organization.

The IMO's impotence in helping to solve the problem of the difficulty of changing the crews of the ships, with hundreds of thousands of seafarers who have long been hostages of their work, seems once again confirmed by the intention announced by the agency to dedicate the central maritime theme of this year of the IMO precisely to seafarers. Giving visibility to the problem, the International Maritime Organization seems to say; More of this I can't do. Or rather, something more -- and of worse -- it was done: celebrating seafarers as the heroes of the Time. Institutions, and unfortunately also press have rushed to attribute to the workers on the sea this virtue. An unclaimed recognition that exempts from proposing uncomfortable measures for those who should suggest them and from the decide on actions, perhaps unpopular, that can concretely solve the problem.

"We must all -- is the exhortation of the Secretary general of the IMO, Kitack Lim - do better to support courageous professionals who continue to ensure trade Global. The dedication and professionalism of more than one one and a half million seafarers around the world - underlines Lim - deserve our great admiration and gratitude, but above all immediate action.' Vivaddio, it would be added if the Lim's subsequent exhortation left no room for illusions. "A first step - explains the Secretary-General of the IMO - would be that countries designated seafarers as key workers, such as indicated in the resolution of the General Assembly of the Nations United Nations adopted in December.' A first step - it is therefore easy to guess -- it's not an immediate action at all.

If it is indecent that maritime nations have not yet designated seafarers as essential workers (to date they have 55 IMO member states and two associated nations), it is however obvious -- and I note to the IMO that it is no coincidence that it speaks of the first step -- that this is not at all sufficient. Much more should be done.

This something more has been done, for the workers of the sea, but especially for those on land. A case emblematic of the concrete will to solve the problem is, for example, the one that has been highlighted in recent days as a result of the decision of the Austrian authorities not to grant the possibility of access to the national territory for persons not in possession of a certification attesting to the carrying out of covid test. The new Italian Government has declared ready to set up facilities to allow hauliers to who must enter Austria to be tested. If that of road transport is perceived as a problem immediate, as indeed it is, does not as much happen, as Instead, it should be the case for maritime transport. Only a few nations most interested in activities and work philippines and Singapore, have equipped with specific procedures and structures for crew change.

To go into the dispensing of certificates of heroism does not serve to nothing but to silence conscience and, more often, to avoid reminding those who, for a reason or for each other, it is good not to animic.

"We want to - explained machine manager Matt Forster called by the IMO to give its opinion on the question -- that people know it's men and women of our industry that provide them with everything they have need for their daily lives. That said - he clarified Forster -- not to have gratitude, but to help you to be taken into account, so that we can help come home, to see our families, to be with our families and for this supply chain to work." More clear of so. So please, let's not call them heroes.

Bruno Bellio


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