Stranded and suicidal seafarers face ruin and forced labour

World

Stranded and suicidal seafarers face ruin and forced labour

Coronavirus restrictions spark humanitarian and mental health crisis that could imperil supply chains

Nicola Smith

Seafarers are facing financial ruin, physical exhaustion and mental health crises in an industry left in tatters by coronavirus restrictions.

An estimated 300,000 seafarers around the world – most from the Philippines and India – are being crushed by debt as they struggle, without pay, to rejoin vessels bound by tortuous coronavirus restrictions. A further 300,000 are believed to be trapped on board ships, mentally and physically exhausted, waiting for a crew changeover that never comes.

Shipping industry groups, workers’ rights bodies and international institutions like the UN have warned of a humanitarian and mental health crisis among key frontline workers, which could ultimately disrupt the supply chains of vital goods around the world or cause an environmental disaster...

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