July 25, 2021

Stranded on ships, 200,000 seafarers struggle in virus limbo

More than 200,000 thousand seafarers are stranded on ships worldwide because of coronavirus border closures and lockdowns
Indian ship worker Tejasvi Duseja is desperate to go home after months stranded offshore by coronavirus border closures and lockdowns that have left more than 200,000 seafarers in limbo.

From engineers on cargo ships to waiters on luxury cruise liners, ocean-based workers around the world have been caught up in what the United Nations warns is a growing humanitarian crisis that has been blamed for several suicides.

Many have been trapped on vessels for months after their tours were supposed to end as travel restrictions disrupted normal crew rotations.

“Mentally, I am just done with it… but I’m still holding up because I have no other option,” Duseja, 27, told AFP via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in late June as the Indian-owned cargo vessel he works on floated near Malaysia.

Duseja, one of roughly 30,000 Indian workers unable to leave their ships, had extended his seven-month contract a few months before the pandemic struck.

“The last time I stepped off from this 200-metre (650-foot) ship was in February,” he said.

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