ICS criticises Italian government's stance on boat refugees
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) expressed its deep concerns about the apparent new policy of the Italian government to close its ports to migrants rescued by vessels operated by humanitarian NGOs.
To its credit, the Italian government has consistently permitted the prompt disembarkation of people rescued by merchant ships, as well as by vessels operated by humanitarian NGOs.
But following the election of the new Italian government, the crisis seems to be taking an ever more political direction. If NGO vessels are not allowed to disembark rescued persons in Italy, this will have significant implications for merchant ships and the movement of trade throughout the Mediterranean, as merchant ships would again have to become involved in a greater number of rescues.
The global shipping industry, as represented by the ICS, is committed to meeting its obligations under the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea Convention (Solas) to come to the rescue of any person in distress at sea. (kd)