Danish merchant ships saving more and more boat refugees

A total of 3,051 people were rescued last year

Last year, Danish merchant ships picked up 3,051 boat refugees in the Mediterranean, DR Nyheder reports.

On 11 occasions, ships from four different shipping lines stopped to save refugees. Morten Glamsø, a chief consultant at the shipowners’ organisation Danmarks Rederiforening, told DR that the numbers are on the rise.

“It’s a growing problem that is causing concern among our members,” he said.

Obligation to help
Birgit Feldtmann, an associate professor at the faculty of law at Syddansk University, said that ships didn’t have a choice about whether to help refugees at sea or not.

“The captain has an obligation to help if he encounters others in distress at sea,” she said.

Glamsø told DR there were a number of dangers associated with the rescues, including the risk of infection and the hazard posed by hundreds of civilians on vessels designed for a small number of seamen.

The International Maritime Organization is convening today in London to discuss the topic with a number of interest groups.