The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also raised questions within the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and in particular, on the initiatives to be undertaken and for this reason, an extraordinary meeting of the Council has been called. In the session, which was held on 10 and 11 March, some important decisions were made.
First, a Blue Maritime Corridor was proposed to allow for evacuation. The Secretary-General has pledged to have it set up immediately. Moreover, the Council welcomed the proposal that a number of steps should be taken to reduce the suffering of seafarers and their families. Here are some of the most incisive and important:
- as a priority, ships should be allowed to sail form the ports of Ukraine at the earliest opportunity without threat of attack;
- for those ships that cannot leave immediately, or where it would be unsafe to do so due to the presence of sea mines or other hazards, humanitarian corridors should be set up that enable the safety of seafarers by allowing them to leave the conflict zone and return home, as appropriate;
- any form of harassment of seafarers due to their nationality should be condemned;
- seafarers affected by the conflict should be allowed free access to communications with their families;
- States should ensure that seafarers are able to access their wages;
- States should acknowledge the key worker status of seafarers and allow their unrestricted movement;
- taking into account the key worker status of seafarers, States involved should strongly consider exempting their seafarers from mandatory military service; and
- where port State control officers are presented with expired documentation, a pragmatic approach to the inspection should be taken, considering the exceptional nature of the situation.
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