IMO is "concerned" about seafarers trapped in coal conflict between Australia and China

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UN's maritime body IMO is "aware of the situation" of crews trapped on dry bulk ships loaded with Australian coal currently waiting off China.

Up to 74 dry bulk vessels loaded with Australian coal have been waiting off Chinese ports for months to unload their cargo, while China has blocked the import of coal from Australia.

And that is worrisome, says the UN, which is "very concerned about the length of time some of these seafarers have been aboard the ships. We are also concerned about access to medical care for seafarers," a spokesperson for the IMO tells ShippingWatch.

"We have been in contact with the Chinese government regarding the situation," the spokesman adds.

The comment comes after Panama has asked Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the IMO, to take action.

"Our mission in this regard is to find a reasonable and positive solution for the crews of these ships so they can return home. Let us remember that the IMO Maritime Safety Committee adopted a resolution on 21 September (MSC.473 ES .2) on measures to assist crew change, access to medical care as well as travel," said Panama's Maritime Minister Arch. Noriel Araúz in the plea earlier this week.

The official explanation for the ban on Australian coal has been lacking, but it has been reported several times that China is unhappy with an Australian call to investigate the outbreak of the coronavirus in China.

China has expressed willingness to lift the blockade of ships to help seafarers, but to a limited extent so far.

Earlier in March, a dry bulker finally off loaded its cargo of coal in China after waiting for 269 days.

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