Vatican City, Jun 17, 2020 / 08:00 am
In a video message Wednesday, Pope Francis told maritime workers that their many sacrifices before and during the coronavirus pandemic have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
“These are difficult times for our world, for we have had to deal with the suffering caused by the coronavirus. Your work as maritime personnel and fishermen has thus become even more important, since it is providing our greater human family with food and other primary needs,” the pope said in the June 17 message.
He noted that during the coronavirus emergency there have been significant changes to seafarers’ lives and already risky work, involving “many, many sacrifices.”
“Long periods spent aboard ships without being able to disembark, separation from families, friends and native countries, fear of infection… All these things are a heavy burden to bear, now more than ever,” he stated.
“I would like to say something to all of you,” he said. “Know that you are not alone and that you are not forgotten.”
Around 90% of the world’s trade is transported by sea, but measures taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus have caused serious complications for the shipping trade in the last few months.
With travel restrictions, many ports and airports have had to close, leaving seafarers stuck at sea and unable to return home.
The inability to change over crews is also causing seafarers and fishing vessel crews to be overworked.