Alexander Maersk Berths in Sicily, Disembarks 108 Migrants

Illustration; Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

Maersk Line’s containership, which picked up 113 migrants in international waters between Libya and Malta on Friday, has berthed at Pozzallo, Italy, disembarking distressed people.

Following the instructions by the Maritime Response Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Rome, Alexander Maersk reached the Sicilian port on June 26 at 1:20 AM CET.

On Saturday evening, MRCC disembarked five persons from the vessel, mainly children and one pregnant woman.

The remaining 108 migrants have now been successfully disembarked from the 1,068 TEU ship, Maersk Line confirmed.

“The crew on Alexander Maersk has done a heroic job in the past days, and we are very proud of the way they handled this difficult situation. It has been a stressful time for the crew and we will focus on providing them time to rest and recover as well as offer any needed crisis counselling,” Maersk Line said in a statement.

The 1998-built boxship was en route from Al Khoms, Libya to Malta when it received a request from MRCC to change its course and assist in search and rescue operation on June 21. After rescuing the migrants, the vessel was waiting for further instructions from the Italian authorities.

The European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA) urged European authorities to disembark people on board Alexander Maersk as merchant vessels are not equipped to have migrants on board for a longer period of time. What is more, the crew on board such ships is not trained to carry out large-scale rescue operations, according to ECSA.

“It is not acceptable that a merchant vessel, saving migrants on its own or called upon to assist in search and rescue activities, is confronted with this kind of problems. Problems that potentially affect the safety and well-being of the migrants and the crew,” Martin Dorsman, ECSA Secretary General, said.

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