As the treacherous Mediterranean Sea claimed more than 1,000 lives over the past few weeks, Mission to Seafarers has praised seafarers in their efforts in helping save the lives of many, but says more must be done to support seafarers in the deepening crisis.
During its seminar during Posidonia, entitled: ‘Plans for the Eastern Med and Assistance to Crews Affected by the Refugee Crisis’, Director of Justice and Public Affairs at The Mission, The Revd Canon Ken Peters, addressed industry concerns, including how refugees and seafarers are regarded and treated under international law.
“The past few weeks have seen the biggest death toll during the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean. There are many cases when those that are rescued outnumber the ship’s resources. The industry must pull together to offer a safe environment for both seafarers and rescued migrants. Irrespective of the laws that are in place, seafarers are proud to render assistance in the protection of life at sea,” Peters said.
Also on the panel for the seminar, Bridget Hogan, Director of Publishing and Marketing at The Nautical Institute, said, “Ships’ Masters and crews face traumatic scenes as they try to help those ‘in peril on the sea’ through the actions of criminals and others who trade in human misery. They cannot be certain who they are inviting onto their vessels – whether people are genuine asylum seekers or criminals or terrorists.”
Director of Nor-Shipping, Birgit Liodden, said ahead of her appearance on the panel: “Even though everyone at sea is well trained and used to dealing with challenging situations in their profession, these tragedies are utterly extreme and traumatic for the men and women who are at the frontline when a refugee boat sinks. In many cases crew members have to choose between which lives they can rescue, and who they have to leave to drown. It is of key importance that our industry recognises the impact this has on our colleagues at sea, and that we strive to ensure strong and joint support from the industry in ensuring that their crucial role in saving lives doesn’t cause long-term traumas.”
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