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German shipowners appeal to Bundestag

In view of the sharp rise in the number of refugees in the Mediterranean Sea, the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) has called upon the federal government and the EU heads of state and governments to massively expand state safe and rescue efforts in the region without delay. Ralf
Nagel, Chief Executive Officer of the VDR, said: “In the past several months our member companies have rescued over 5,000 refugees in distress in the Mediterranean Sea. Merchant vessels are summoned by the Italian coast guard for rescue missions on a daily basis. In the process, our seafarers keep reaching their physical and mental limits.

 Refugees drown time and again before their eyes or die on board due to exposure. Despite all preparations, merchant vessels are not equipped for rescue and medical treatment of partly several hundreds of refugees.” Today the German Bundestag is debating the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea in a special session. In this context, Nagel said: “We expect support from the German Bundestag as well as a clear mandate to Chancellor Merkel for tomorrow's EU summit meeting to expand safe and rescue operations by EU states massively in the Mediterranean Sea – and very soon.

In addition, we need medical assistance on board. The refugees include many sick and injured persons, but also women in an advanced state of pregnancy. Germany needs to make a substantial contribution and the other EU member states must make a concerted effort as well. After all, the number of refugee boats is expected to rise even further in the next few weeks. A passage on hopelessly overloaded, non-ocean-going boats represents a mortal hazard even in the spring.”

The maritime coordinator of the CDU/CSU faction in the German Bundestag, Rüdiger Kruse, has pledged to make additional funding available and to adopt short-term measures to rescue the people in peril at sea. Ralf Nagel: “We explicitly wish to thank Rüdiger Kruse for his clear commitment to giving seafarers on merchant vessels relief by extending the scope of state resources for rescue missions. We are also very grateful for his immense appreciation of the enormous efforts made by seafarers to rescue thousands of human lives.

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