The United Nations is praising the rescue of 22 migrants, including at least one asylum seeker, whose vessel had sunk in the Aegean Sea, by the crew of a cruise ship from the Holland America Line.
The MS Noordam was on its way from the Greek city of Piraeus to the Turkish port of Kusadasi on Tuesday, when the crew spotted several people in the water off the Greek island of Samos. The ship rescued 22 migrants from various countries, including Somalia and Iraq. The effort took two hours and fifteen minutes. They were then taken to Kusadasi the next day. . .
â€œWe want to commend the shipmaster and crew of the Dutch-Registered MS Noordam for their humanitarian act and for upholding international law and custom. We are also grateful to the government of Turkey for receiving these people in need,â€ UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) AntÃ³nio Guterres said.
â€œThis incident highlights the urgent need for states to cooperate in order to prevent the tragedies that are occurring almost daily, in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, when people use desperate means to seek a better life or refuge,â€ Mr. Guterres said. One child drowned before the group could be rescued.
Shipmasters have an obligation under international law to rescue any persons in distress at sea. Persons rescued at sea should be disembarked at the next port of call, where they should be admitted, at least on a temporary basis.
UNHCR is working closely with the UN International Maritime Organisation to offer support and guidance to shipsâ€™ masters who come to the aid of refugees and asylum seekers in difficulty at sea.
“At a time when captains are constantly asked to boost efficiency and cut costs, it remains vital that they continue to take the time and trouble to rescue people in peril – whether they are refugees or any other people in distress,â€ UNHCR said.Â (more details and company reaction)