European and global shipping carriers have requested urgent priority for EU Member States to immediately launch a proper EU Search and Rescue operation with sufficient resources to prevent the further loss of thousands more lives in the Mediterranean.
Following the terrible tragedy last weekend, the shipping industry and the wider international community are calling on the leaders of Europe to act decisively and to maintain the new momentum for something to be done.
In Brussels, Patrick Verhoeven, Secretary General of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA), said: “The shipping industry recognises that the underlying issues are very complex. But when dealing with the imminent life or death of thousands of people, fast and decisive action is needed to avoid further escalation of the problem.
“Ideally we need an EU operation similar to Mare Nostrum, but the critical thing is that Search and Rescue resources, rather than border control resources, are increased now, and that they are increased immediately – not later in the year or even in a few weeks’ time.”
Peter Hinchliffe, Secretary General of the London-based International Chamber of Shipping, said: “When we talk about increased search and rescue operations, we mean increasing the number of coastguard and other appropriate vessels that are immediately available to help, and expanding the geographical area of patrols to those areas where migrants are most likely to be found before they get into serious difficulty.”
He concluded: “When called upon to assist, merchant ships will always come to the aid of anyone in distress at sea, but as the tragic events of the weekend seem to have shown, merchant ships are really not best equipped to deal with such large-scale operations involving hundreds of people.”