The United Nations said that seafarers and aircrew should be prioritized for vaccination against the Coronavirus and must be considered as "essential workers" as they have a major role in global trade and mobility.
The air and sea personnel would be the key to the world's socio-economic recovery from the pandemic as stated by the World Health Organization (WHO) together with the UN's agencies for labor, migration, and civil aviation.
"For shipping and air transport to continue to operate safely, the safe cross-border movement of seafarers and aircrew must be facilitated," they said.
The global economy is reliant on maritime transport that is being operated by two million mariners. More than 80 percent of global trade is moved by maritime transport.
However, seafarers have been greatly affected by the pandemic. As of January, it's estimated that 400,000 seafarers are still stranded onboard commercial vessels are unable to go back to their homes, and are long past the end of their contracts.
A similar number of sailors were waiting to join ships to replace them, the agencies said.
Meanwhile, 35 percent of the value of all goods are being shipped by the airfreight. In 2019 alone, the air transport industry carried some 5.7 billion passengers, the agencies said.
According to the data from the UN's International Civil Aviation Organization, a total of 887,000 people were licensed aviation professionals, including pilots, air traffic controllers, and maintenance crew, before the pandemic.
The statement also said that due to strict measures to contain Covid-19 such as quarantines, it has led to complications on the operations at significant costs.
The agencies noted that to enter some countries they require proof of vaccination for seafarers and aircrew as they cross borders all the time.
The WHO has recommended that countries refrain from requiring proof of vaccination for international travel for now. Pointing that when it comes to the jabs' efficacy in reducing transmission there are "critical unknowns" and also limited and inequitable access.
But the UN agencies said they fully supported the "timely development" of an international framework for vaccination certificates to facilitate travel by seafarers and aircrew.
A growing number of countries are already moving forward toward national and regional vaccine "passports".
"Seafarers and aircrew need to be protected through vaccination as soon as possible, to facilitate their safe movement across borders," the statement said.
Source: GMA News