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30 Aug 2021

Human Rights at Sea

Kiribati: Concerns expressed over seafarers stranded overseas as result of pandemic

"I-Kiribati Seafaring Community Pleads with Government to Repatriate Stranded Colleagues", 30 August 2021

Concerns for the future of Kiribati’s maritime workforce have escalated across the small Pacific Island nation, as the community appeals to their government to bring home more than 250 I-Kiribati seafarers stranded overseas.

The I-Kiribati seafarers are among thousands of maritime workers globally displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic, as widespread travel restrictions disrupted the ‘crew change’ system, which enables crewmembers travel to and from their ships at either end of their contractual work periods.

I-Kiribati crewmembers are stranded in Fiji, Australia, Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, and Spain, with some having been away from home for as long as 18 months due to the nation’s ongoing border closures.


“A safe solution for repatriation and new crew changes is possible and support is offered internationally. What is missing is a reaction from their own country. It’s shocking how much misinformation is spread there.” commented Matthias Ristau, regional port chaplain of Deutsche Seemannsmission in Northern Germany who is providing welfare support to 150 I-Kiribati seafarers stranded in Hamburg since November 2020.