Migrants Disembarked from Maersk Etienne in Mediterranean

Mike Schuler
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September 11, 2020

MT Maersk Etienne. Photo courtesy Maersk Tankers

Maersk Tankers has announced the safe disembarkation of 27 migrants from the Maersk Etienne tanker in the Mediterranean.

The disembarkation comes 38 days after the Captain and crew of the Maersk Etienne heeded requests for assistance and came to the rescue of the migrants distress at sea. Since then, the ship had been denied entry by several countries, leaving the vessel and its crew stranded off Malta with the migrants on board and limited supplies.

The migrants have now been transferred to the ship Mare Jonio operated by the non-governmental organization 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,” Maersk Tankers said in a statement.

“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.”

Long-standing maritime tradition and international maritime law requires that the Master of a ship has an obligation to render assistance to any person in distress at sea, so long as it does not endanger the ship, its crew or passengers.

The Captain and crew of the Maersk Etienne rescued the 27 migrants, including one pregnant woman, in Tunisian waters following a request by Maltese officials on August 4.

“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,” Maersk Tankers said.

The Maersk Etienne will now 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 company said.

Mediterranea said today it has requested Malta authorities to assign a Place of Safety to disembark those who are in urgent need as soon as possible.

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