The bad news from the Mediterranean – and the Aegean in particular – continues. “12 Dead, More Missing After Boat Capsizes”; “Migrant Boat Sinks: Nine Children Among Dead”... Over a million people crossed the Mediterranean ‘irregularly’ in 2015: thousands died attempting it. This year, to 29 January, the International Organization for Migration reports that 52,055 have crossed to Greece and 3,473 to Italy: at least 244 more have died.
We can become inured to bad news. It batters us relentlessly; and perhaps there is a weary feeling of ‘That’s terribly sad – but what can I do...?’ Then something happens to make it all immediate again.
In this edition we consider some of the international legislation underpinning SAR.
Migrant Rescue at Sea: The Legal Context
The ongoing migrant crisis across the Mediterranean region continues to cause huge humanitarian, border control, and maritime SAR challenges. The plight of hundreds of thousands of people risking their lives in sea crossings to escape war, abuse or poverty has aroused strong responses, from people wanting to help the displaced, and people wanting to stem the tide. According to news reports it also seems to have confused some would-be rescuers, uncertain of their legal position.
Let’s set the record straight.
The IMRF exists for two primary purposes:
|•||advocacy, on behalf of the world’s maritime search and rescue organisations; and|
|•||mutual support – the sharing of information and ideas so as to improve maritime SAR and save lives worldwide.|
In both cases we – the world’s SAR community – are stronger together. We are stronger if we speak with one voice on the literally vital issues that concern us, making sure that the continuing, and often needless, loss of life in the world’s waters is kept high on the agenda. And we are stronger if we work together, and share.