London: The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) have welcomed the EU’s new 10-point plan to deal with the migrants crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.
The plan was devised by EU foreign and interior ministers in Luxembourg at an emergency meeting in Luxembourg on Monday. Over 900 migrants lost their lives in the Mediterranean when their boat capsized at the weekend.
“The scale of the tragedy at the weekend is unprecedented and European leaders can no longer ignore the catastrophe occurring on the EU’s maritime border,” Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA’s secretary general, said in a statement today.
“But the urgent and immediate priority is for EU member states to increase resources for Search and Rescue [SAR] operations before thousands more people die,” Verhoeven continued. “The provision of additional funding and resources to SAR is a positive step but more clarity is required to understand the implications of operating within the FRONTEX mandate.”
Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of the London-based ICS, echoed these sentiments, saying the EU needs a similar force to Mare Nostrum, the humanitarian Italian SAR operation that was suspended last year.
Mare Nostrum co-ordinated the rescue of around 200,000 people in 2014, about 40,000 of them rescued by merchant ships.
“Italy, Malta and other Mediterranean nations, and the merchant ships on which they have relied to assist with hundreds of large scale rescue operations, many involving hundreds of people at a time, simply cannot continue to manage the situation without the collective support of all EU Member States, which need to act now without further delay,” Hinchliffe said.