ECSA Call to Resolve Mediterranean Crisis


In a letter written by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which together represent the European and global shipping industries and over 80% of the world merchant fleet, addressed to the Heads of government in the EU, the association has called for urgent action to be taken on the humanitarian crisis that is taking place in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to the letter, at least 3,500 people lost their lives during 2014 while attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Further loss of life is also imminent as more desperate people attempt to cross the ocean.

The ECSA said: “All EU and EEA [European Economic Area] member states have a collective responsibility to prevent the loss of thousands more lives, as hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees seek to escape to Europe in boats that are unfit for purpose. The need to act immediately is pressing and urgent.

“In short, we believe it is unacceptable that the international community is increasingly relying on merchant ships and seafarers to undertake more and more large-scale rescues, with single ships having to rescue as many 500 people at a time.

“While far more needs to be done to prevent the boats used by people smugglers from being able to depart from North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean in the first place, the lawless situation in Libya and Syria makes this very difficult.

The ECSA concluded: “We respectfully urge the government to treat the development of solutions to this serious problem as an absolute priority. It is literally a matter of life and death.

“While these comments address the immediate crisis enfolding in the Mediterranean, the movement of large numbers of migrants to Europe by sea has been, and is likely to be a challenge affecting other regions, requiring an appropriate collective response.

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