Amazon's Jeff Bezos called upon to save thousands of stranded seafarers

Amazon's Jeff Bezos called upon to save thousands of stranded seafarers
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(Nov 26): Shipping industry associations called on Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos to support some 400,000 seafarers stuck on merchant vessels because of restrictions at ports to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Industry bodies including the International Chamber of Shipping wrote an open letter urging Bezos to exert pressure on the incoming Biden administration and other leaders to recognize seafarers as key workers, according to a joint statement Thursday.

“The strength of Amazon’s (and others’) supply chain is central to the success of red-letter retail days like Black Friday,” said the letter, which was signed by the chairs of the industry groups. “Without these seafarers, global trade as we know it would simply cease to exist.”

“Unforgivably, more than 400,000 of our seagoing colleagues and seafarers, who underpin the movement of goods around the world, are currently stranded on board their vessels, because governments will not recognize their crucial role and prioritize them for immigration and travel purposes,” it said.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some of them have been at sea for more than a year, the letter said, adding that about 90% of global trade relies on shipping and the success and scale of shopping events such as Cyber Monday wouldn’t be possible without their work.

“Throughout some of the most difficult conditions in living memory, they have continued to transport the goods needed to satisfy the demand generated by platforms including Amazon,” it said.