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24 September 2020 The on-line newspaper devoted to the world of transports 17:03 GMT+2

September 7, 2020

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ICS, UNHCR and IOM urge governments to allow landings 27 migrants aboard Maersk Etienne

I've been aboard the tanker for over a month

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) urged governments to allow the immediate disembarkation of the ship Handy Maersk Etienne tanker of 27 people who escaped from Libya, including a child and a pregnant woman, who were rescued on 4 August in the waters of the Mediterranean by the ship's crew at the request of Maltese officials. The three organisations pointed out that the Maersk crew Etienne provided water, food and blankets to these people, to whom however, they are not able to provide medical assistance.

In a letter sent to the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim, the International Chamber of Shipping urged the United Nations organization to urgent action and to "send a clear message to States that need to make sure that search and rescue cases in sea are resolved in accordance with the letter and the spirit of international law."

In this regard, the ICS pointed out that the law and international maritime conventions impose clear obligations on ships and coastal states that are called upon to provide relief to people in need who need to be promptly landed in a safe place, just as it was done, at least for the rescue phase, by Maersk Etienne, which then clashed with the denial at the landing of the rescued people who was imposed by various authorities Government.

"The absence of a clear, safe and predictable mechanism landing for those rescued in the Mediterranean - explained the Director-General of the IOM, Antonio Vitorino - continues to risk to life that can be avoided. From Time- he recalled - the IOM and the UNHCR are asking the states to avoid a stand-alone approach and establish a scheme based on the coastal states take equal responsibility in the provide a safe haven, followed by a show of solidarity other EU Member States'.

The ICS general secretary, Guy Platten, reiterated 27 people trapped on the boat Maersk Etienne:"On board - he specified - the conditions are rapidly deteriorating and it is no longer can remain inert while governments ignore the difficult people's situation. This is not, Platten added, the first time this happens and we need that governments are up to their obligations. Time is running out and responsibility for the safety and protection of these government authorities. It's not a case related to Covid. It's a simple matter humanitarian aid.'

An alarm had been raised again yesterday by Maersk Tankers, the company that owns Maersk Etienne, announcing that in the morning three migrants on board the ship were thrown into the sea. The ship's commander and crew immediately activated the recovery procedures by rescuing and bringing the three people back on board.

As has been pointed out on several occasions, the Secretary-General International Chamber of Shipping recalled that "the industry shipping takes its legal obligations very seriously and humanitarian assistance to people in need at sea and worked hard to ensure that ships are as good as they are prepared when they face the prospect demanding sea rescues. However, Platten reiterated, merchant ships are not designed or equipped to and states must play their part."

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