European shipping industry urges the revival of Operation Sophia

21 Jan 2020

In his statement yesterday at the Foreign Affairs Council, High Representative/Vice President Josep Borrell said that the EU "[has] to revive" Operation Sophia.

The deployment of the Operation Sophia’s naval assets will remain suspended, as EU member states continue to work on a solution on disembarkation.

"The European shipping industry fully supports the revival of Operation Sophia, meaning the deployment of naval assets" commented Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary General.

"The current situation is not sustainable nor just for merchant ships and seafarers. The industry was, is and will always help persons in distress, not only as prescribed by international maritime law but also on humanitarian grounds. But with no assistance from naval forces to discharge the refugees rescued, merchant ships are left in a limbo, as our crews are not trained to deal with helping the refugees and our vessels are not equipped for picking up more than dozens (let alone hundreds) of persons."

"These rescues in the Mediterranean are not missions launched for shipwrecked persons. They are a human disaster, involving pregnant women, children, the sick and injured who are exhausted, dehydrated and frequently traumatised. Our seafarers are not prepared for such missions, which can be extremely traumatic experiences," he continued.

ECSA is of the position that Operation Sophia should be revived as soon as possible, and the European shipping industry stands ready to support the High Representative/Vice President in this endeavour.