Maersk boss: Mediterranean refugee situation is a tragedy without equal
There are a million refugees ready to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe, the head of incident and crisis management at Maersk Line has told Børsen, describing the situation as a tragedy without equal anywhere else on Earth.
Maersk Line’s container ships have already picked up 750 boat refugees since the beginning of the year, and its fleet was involved yesterday in the search and rescue operation after a boat carrying more than 700 refugees sank during the weekend.
Steffen Conradsen, the head of incident and crisis management at Maersk Line, said there was no end in sight to the situation.
“We estimate that about one million refugees are in place in northern Africa waiting to be sailed across the Mediterranean to European shores. We don’t expect it to subside,” he said.
“What’s happening in the Mediterranean is without equal. Nowhere on earth do have we had to deal with a refugee situation of this magnitude and with such great human tragedies.”
Not part of the solution
Conradsen told Børsen that Maersk Line would continue to rescue people in distress, but that the company would not start equipping its vessels specifically for rescue operations. “We will not start gearing our ships for systematic evacuations of several hundred people,” he said.
“Then there wouldn’t be any limit to what we should do. We will always save people in distress that our ships come across, but we can’t be a part of the solution to this problem.”
More than 3,500 boat refugees drowned in the Mediterranean during 2014.