European shipowners have raised concerns after Italy recently refused a humanitarian ship to disembark rescued persons in Italian ports, according to ECSA.

“We realise that Mediterranean states like Italy, Spain and Malta have been under huge pressure in the past years receiving so many migrants and the burden of incoming migrants should be better shared,” Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary General, said.

“However, we find it unacceptable that ships carrying migrants are turned away from ports. Also merchant ships can be called upon for assisting with the rescue of migrants. In accordance with international conventions, the Captain has a legal obligation to help people in distress at sea, and will of course honour these commitments when needed. However, commercial ships are not equipped neither are the crews trained to undertake large-scale rescues or keep migrants on board for long time,” Dorsman explained.

The certainty that migrants can be disembarked as soon as possible is crucial for the safety and well-being of the migrants and the seafarers, ECSA informed.

“The shipping industry is directly affected by migrants at sea. Whereas the number of migrants rescued from the sea has gone down from the peak-year of 2015, merchant vessels are still often involved in the Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in central, western and eastern Mediterranean.”

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