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Shipping Lines : Safe disembarkation of the 27 rescued persons from Maersk Etienne


The 27 rescued persons who have been on board Maersk Etienne for 38 days have been safely disembarked. Today they were transferred to the ship Mare Jonio operated by the non-governmental organisation Mediterranea.

We have been increasingly concerned for the rescued persons’ physical and mental health following their prolonged stay onboard Maersk Etienne. The situation has worsened following the recent incident where three of the persons jumped overboard, and we have seen continuous issues with minor medical aliments and a recent threat to go onto hunger strike.

We requested assistance and agreed with Mediterranea that they will conduct a health assessment using the medical team onboard the Mare Jonio. The transfer to the ship occurred following their assessment that the rescued persons’ condition called for immediate care in suitable medical facilities.

Maersk Etienne will proceed to a suitable port where we will follow up with a debriefing of the crew and ensure they too get the care they need.

The captain and the crew of the Maersk Etienne have honorably fulfilled their duty at sea, and we are proud and greatly appreciative of their efforts. We thank them, Mediterranea, shipping and trade associations and human rights groups who have supported us since the rescue operation took place.

“We are relieved and grateful. The rescued persons can now finally get the medical care they need and our crew can continue their voyage safely. While we are appreciative of the support from Mediterranea in helping us to bring a closure to this unprecedent situation we are at the same time deeply concerned that it has not been possible to find a solution to the situation before now. It has been very difficult for the rescued persons and our crew,” says Tommy Thomassen, Chief Technical Officer, Maersk

1September 2020:  The captain and crew onboard Maersk Etienne fulfilled their responsibilities when they rescued the 27 people who were in distress at sea. International law and maritime conventions place clear obligations on responsible governments to ensure people in distress are promptly disembarked. More than a month later we are still awaiting a solution from governments.

 6 September 2020: The situation onboard Maersk Etienne escalated further this morning when three migrants jumped overboard. The captain and crew were quick to implement recovery procedures and the three persons have now been rescued and brought back onboard the ship where they are being given due care. The incident comes after the migrants have been left stranded on the ship for over a month, following the responsible authorities’ failed attempt to find a solution to safely disembark them. We continue to plead for urgent humanitarian assistance for the 27 people onboard the Maersk Etienne and ask that they are immediately given the attention and care they need.  

1 September 2020: We are calling on responsible governments for urgent humanitarian assistance and a safe disembarkation of the 27 people we rescued four weeks ago. We ask the relevant authorities to ensure that these migrants are immediately tended to and provided the care and attention they need. Doing so will also allow our captain and crew to continue their voyage and return home to their fa:milies.

Following a request from Maltese officials on 4 August our crew rescued 27 migrants stranded in Tunisian waters. The rescued – who include a pregnant woman and at least one minor – have been forced to remain on board our Danish-flagged tanker Maersk Etienne now for twenty-seven days. This is a new and unfortunate record for migrants held abroad a commercial ship.

Our crew continue to provide as much support and assistance as they can to this vulnerable group, but they lack the resources to offer sustained humanitarian and medical care. A tanker ship is neither designed nor equipped to accommodate additional people; we therefore find ourselves in a situation where our supplies are rapidly depleting.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have both voiced their concerns over the lack of political response over this crisis. We appreciate the support of both organisations as we are deeply concerned about the situation on board the ship.

19 August 2020: “Following a request from Maltese officials on 4 August, we rescued 27 migrants, including one child and a pregnant woman, and our crew have provided them support. The merchant fleet is neither designed nor equipped to care for additional people, and we are quickly depleting the supplies onboard. Therefore, we call on authorities and governments for humanitarian assistance and to urgently find a solution to safely disembark the rescued people and ensure they get the care they need,” says Tommy Thomassen, Chief Technical Officer at Maersk Tankers. 

press release

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