The Government of the UK has announced plans to host the first international summit regarding the Covid-19 impact on seafarers and crew changes.

Guests will include the United Nations (UN), as well as political and business leaders from around the world.

UK Maritime Minister Kelly Tolhurst will lead the virtual summit.

The summit is expected to help reflect on the pandemic impact on the global shipping industry and the steps needed to ensure crew workers’ welfare.

The UN secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization Kitack Lim has highlighted the need to protect the workers and the duty of the governments to quickly repatriate the crew members.

It is estimated that due to Covid-19, over 1.2 million seafarers are stuck at sea and approximately 200,000 seafarers are due for a changeover.

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Tolhurst said: “Seafarers have worked tirelessly during this pandemic to ensure people across the globe can access the essential food, medicine and supplies we all need, but thousands have been left with no way of coming ashore when faced with border restrictions.

“This government has helped more than 7,000 crew get home back to their loved ones across the world, regardless of nationality or circumstance.

“I hope that this meeting will be a reminder of the international collaboration required by all states to bring people home.”

Last week, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced that it has detained five ships over crew welfare concerns.

The MCA surveyors uncovered many seafarers’ employment agreements that were expired and invalid, late payment of wages and crew members who were onboard for more than 12 months.