Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia has been supporting a number of ASEAN and UN programs for seafarers, who contribute significantly to the national economy, including provision of COVID-19 vaccines to them, according to a senior official.

"Indonesia agrees that seafarers are key workers. Starting from a Joint Statement at the International Maritime Virtual Summit on Crew Changes on July 9, 2020, Indonesia has recognized the importance of the role of seafarers as the backbone of the economy," Capt. Hermanta, director of shipping and maritime affairs at the directorate general of sea transportation under the Ministry of Transportation, said in a press statement released here on Saturday.

Hermanta made the remarks while leading the Indonesian delegation at the ‘Intersessional Discussion on Covid 19: Responses of ASEAN Member States to Seafarer Access to Crew Change, Repatriation, and National Vaccination Programs’, held online and hosted by Thailand on May 27-28, 2021.

The meeting was attended by nine ASEAN countries, three dialogue partners (FASA, South Korea, and China), as well as the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as the UN's special agency.

Indonesia has assisted in crew changes and repatriation of seafarers since April 24, 2020, Hermanta said. So far, the nation has assisted in crew changes of 6,563 sailors and the return of 57,142 Indonesian migrant workers, he disclosed.

He also provided details on the national vaccination program for seafarers.

"In Indonesia, the vaccination of seafarers is a special concern of the Ministry of Transportation. We have coordinated with the Ministry of Health and the COVID-19 Task Force in the implementation of vaccinations for seafarers, including the vaccination program which will be carried out in the near future," he said.

The government has set a target of vaccinating 15 thousand seafarers by the end of 2021.

As of May 6, 2021, 8,123 vaccine doses have been administered and 1,487 people have received the second COVID-19 shot under the first vaccination program for seafarers.

At the 103rd meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee, Indonesia supported the draft resolution on recommendations to prioritize vaccination programs for seafarers.

Members of the Indonesian delegation included officials from the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Transportation. (INE)

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Translator: Ahmad Wijaya, Fardah
Editor: Suharto
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