More merchant ships are encountering people at sea or being asked to provide assistance as the migrant crisis continues in the Mediterranean. This week, two more commercial ships joined as global aid and humanitarian groups continue to call for a more comprehensive response.
Dutch offshore construction and contracting firm Van Oord says it is the latest to provide assistance at the authorities’ request. Its cable-laying vessel Nex (6,500 dwt) was traveling in the Mediterranean on 16 November with a crew of 27 when it was contacted by the Malta Rescue Coordination Centre. They were requested to help a small boat full of refugees that was in danger due to bad weather.
“It is not known how many days the migrants, all men, had been at sea,” Van Oord said, reporting the rescue. “Their origins are also unknown due to language barriers.”
Van Oord’s ship was requested by the Maltese authorities to provide assistance (Van Oord).
gave Nex During the night between 16 and 17 November, he was able to locate the small boat and determined that it had 49 men on board. The company reported that all 49 refugees appeared to be in good health but weak, and some were hypothermic. The Nexus crew provided them with food and hot drinks and a safe place on deck.
In coordination with the Maltese Coast Guard, it was agreed that the cable-laying vessel would proceed to Malta. It arrived on the island late on 17 November and the plan was to transfer the migrants to the Maltese Coast Guard.
Van Oord’s report comes days after Belgian engineering and offshore construction and maintenance company John de Noel also encountered refugees in the Mediterranean. Company’s overseas installation vessel Simon Steven (35,930 dwt) arrived on November 10 on a sloop adrift in the Mediterranean.
According to the company report, their crew spotted a sloop about 45 miles off the coast of Algeria. He said that there were eight men, two women and five children in this small boat which had been drifting in the Mediterranean Sea for several days.
“The crew took the migrants on board. All 15 were healthy, but weak and hypothermic. The crew gave them food, drinks, warm clothes, a bed and blankets to help them recover. Friday morning, the Algerian Coast Guard through,” said John D. Noel.
15 people aboard Simon Steven found in Algeria (Jean de Null)
The United Nations and non-governmental organizations working in the Mediterranean have reported a dramatic increase in the number of people trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa. Recently, he has reported that he is facing more resistance to his efforts with the changing political climate in Europe. Italy for example blocked Efforts by an NGO to disembark male refugees forced a ship to divert to France in early November.
Under SOLAS regulations, ships are required to render assistance and transport persons in distress to a port of safety. However, the lack of a comprehensive policy raises debate including the role of flag states when ships assist. In August 2020, Tanker Maersk Etienne Trapped himself in one A stalemate After 27 migrants were rescued for 38 days, no country agreed to allow the ship to disembark.