Many sailors are marooned at sea because of border closures and immigration restrictions aimed at containing the coronavirus pandemic.
(Email Received by The Maritime Post)
“A a Mauritian Citizen and a Seafarer, I am writing to you on behalf of all Mauritian citizens presently stranded in the Philippine onboard the RCCL Ship “Voyager of the seas”.
We have been at sea for some of us since September 2019 and have been waiting for repatriation since 20th March 2020 (Date we last disembarked guests). We fully understand that Mauritius was under an Emergency state and that originally delayed our return..
Now, to date, Mauritius is not anymore under emergency state since juin 1st and the government has started a very slow repatriation process of crew members since then. Back home we have normal operations with all businesses back in operation like schools, beaches, horse racing, public transports, recreational areas, public concerts, festivals, supermarkets and malls are all open for operation. Besides the wearing of mask and “social distancing”, full operation is back to normal in Mauritius just the way it used to be.
We had a total of around 2 000 Mauritian crew members working on 21 Cruise ships harboured in 82 ports around the world that have been converged together to facilitate repatriation and now the government is planing to complete repatriation by end of August (Same period when the country is scheduled to open for tourists).
What kind of repatriation take 3 months to repatriate 2000 crew? How are we supposed to support our families without income for more than 3 months when we are not even allowed to go back to them. Beside this the government has imposed that the cruise companies pay them a total of about $3000 per crew member to cover repatriation, PCR test during quarantine and quarantine accommodation cost ( Total of $6 000 000). Our Company has agreed to do so to send the crew as early as possible back to their families because they understood how important it is to be with your family in hard times (even though it was an unfair and unethical request from the government of Mauritius in a time where we are supposed to help each other to ask for such exorbitant amount of money)but the Mauritian government made it even more challenging by imposing that only the local airline (Which was already declared bankrupt) will be allowed to do the repatriation and that only they cannot repatriate no more than 450 crew in The month of June by the use of 3 charter flights with 150 crew each because they don’t have enough hotel rooms available ( In a country where we have several hundreds of hotel, lodges, guest houses, villas etc..)
The company offered to send a ship in the Indian Ocean to be anchored and allowed the Mauritian crew to perform their 14days or even 21 days Quarantine there under the supervision of the Mauritian health officers( same like in was done in many other countries such as Philippines, Indonesia, China etc) but the Mauritian government again refused and the only plausible reason for that refusal is the financial gain that they could get with repatriation through the local airline and quarantine in hotels paid by the cruise company.
We have been under constant health monitoring for past 3 months and been isolated from the rest of the world for that long. All of us have been tested and found healthy for all this time but the government still wants to delay this process without reasons.
As citizens of Mauritius and as per the constitution of Mauritius we seafarers have the same rights like everyone else to be repatriated without further delay. As per the same constitution, under article 7, we should not be subject to any kind of inhuman or unfair treatment and here we are away from our families, forced to watch them strive and hassle in their daily lives while we watch helplessly at the mercy of moral depression and desperation, begging our own government for our constitution rights. This definitely feels like psychological torture since isolation from our family and desperation are involved. We even feel like we have a bounty or random on our head and if our company does not abide by it, our own government who promised to protect us will make our lives a living misery.
It’s true that Mauritius reacted well against the pandemic spread in the beginning but this is done already. Now it’s time to repatriate all these people who have been stranded. Who have been away from their motherland and their families for so long. And to help the cruise company to get that done in the safest but most efficient way possible and not to take 1/4 of a year to get that done for $6M where everywhere else it’s being done in less than half this time for more crew members and without imposing any additional fees.
The government, and the honorable president have taken an oath to devote themselves to the service and well being of the people of Mauritius. Now they put aside that oath to ask over USD6M To repatriate over 2000 of their fellow citizens back. Just as if it was a hostage situation.. With this act alone Mauritius has reached the peak of unethical behavior. And we can understand easier why a small island like Mauritius could feature on the international black list with doubtful institutions and is so well known for corruption.
We are supposed to be one nation in peace, justice and liberty but where is the justice when you feel your our government turns their back on you when you need it the most.
I request your assistance to please plead on our behalf and to please assist all the crew members to be repatriated back to Mauritius at the soonest and to be allowed to reunite with their family and give them the support they need back home.
I trust this will fall in the right hands and that our wait to go back home will not last any much longer as one of the biggest and most cruel punishment for any human being is to deprive someone of the right to be with their loved ones when the latter needs them.
Put yourselves in our shoes for a minute, how would you feel if your government finds all types of reasons just to prevent you from going home to be with your family so as for them to get a chance to make some income out of the situation?*