Maersk Tankers reports that 27 rescued migrants who had been on board its tanker Maersk Etienne for 38 days have been safely disembarked. Today they were transferred to the ship Mare Jonio operated by the non-governmental organization Mediterranea.
The group of 27 migrants, including one child and a pregnant woman, had been rescued by the tanker from the sea off Tunisia on August 4 at the request of Maltese authorities. Maersk Tankers was then unable find a country willing to take them and the Maersk Etienne crew has provided them support.
The plight of the group was underscored when three of them jumped overboard on August 6. hey were rescued by the tanker crew and brought back on board.
“We have been increasingly concerned for the rescued persons’ physical and mental health following their prolonged stay onboard Maersk Etienne,” said Maersk Tankers today. “The situation has worsened following the recent incident where three of the persons jumped overboard, and we have seen continuous issues with minor medical aliments and a recent threat to go onto hunger strike.
“We requested assistance and agreed with Mediterranea that they will conduct a health assessment using the medical team onboard the Mare Jonio. The transfer to the ship occurred following their assessment that the rescued persons’ condition called for immediate care in suitable medical facilities.”
The company said that Maersk Etienne will proceed to a suitable port where, it said, “we will follow up with a debriefing of the crew and ensure they too get the care they need.”
Maersk Tankers added that “the captain and the crew of the Maersk Etienne have honorably fulfilled their duty at sea, and we are proud and greatly appreciative of their efforts. We thank them, Mediterranea, shipping and trade associations and human rights groups who have supported us since the rescue operation took place.”
Tommy Thomassen, Chief Technical Officer, Maersk Tankers, said: “We are relieved and grateful. The rescued persons can now finally get the medical care they need and our crew can continue their voyage safely. While we are appreciative of the support from Mediterranea in helping us to bring a closure to this unprecedented situation, we are at the same time deeply concerned that it has not been possible to find a solution before now. It has been very difficult for the rescued persons and our crew.”
Mediterranea said in a post on its Facebook page:
“The Mare Jonio has just completed the transfer onboard of the 27 people that had been on the Maersk Etienne for 38 days. Our Medical Team found them in serious pycho-physical conditions that make it impossible for them to stay on the petrol tanker.
“We have already requested from the Malta authorities, responsible for this SAR event on 5th August, to assign a Place Of Safety (POS) as soon as possible, to disembark these people in urgent need of treatment.
“Enough is enough.”