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Shipowners: It is our duty to rescue illegal refugees

The International Chamber of Shipping has strong reservations about an EU proposal aimed at moving resources from efforts to rescue distressed people in the Mediterranean. "We must rescue anyone who is distressed at sea."

Rescuing people in distress at sea - including illegal immigrants - is an obligation under international maritime legislation as well as a long-established humanitarian duty, says the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) after politicians from EU member states have expressed concerns that search and rescue missions could act as a "pull factor" for illegal migrants who decide to take the chance in spite of the risks, a factor that is evident from the number of rescue missions taking place in the Mediterranean.

The organization notes that commercial vessels are legally obligated to rescue distressed people in accordance with the UN International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS).

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