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Press Release

Day of the seafarer: ICS Highlights Role of Merchant Seafarers in Migrant Rescues

Manila June 25, 2016: Gerardo Borromeo, Vice Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) took the opportunity today to highlight the courage that is currently being displayed by seafarers, of all nationalities, with respect to the rescue at sea crisis taking place in Europe and in the Mediterranean.

27 June 2016

Speaking at an event run by the International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN) to celebrate the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Day of the Seafarer on 25th June 2016, he said:

“Seafarers move the world, and in doing so they also make tremendous sacrifices, staying away from home and family for extended periods of time. But they can also be called upon to take on other extraordinary tasks, beyond the call of normal duty.

“The shipping industry fully accepts its humanitarian responsibility to come to the assistance of anyone in distress at sea. But one aspect of this terrible situation, which is often overlooked, is the effect that this is having on merchant seafarers.

“Many seafarers have now been involved in large-scale rescue operations, saving the lives of thousands of people, and witnessing great suffering. It has to be remembered that seafarers are civilians, they are not professional rescue personnel.”

He emphasised that while the politics surrounding the migrant crisis are hugely complex, ICS will continue to urge governments to do even more.

Mr Borromeo concluded:

“The Day of the Seafarer is a day of celebration. On behalf of ICS, and in co-operation with our colleagues from the seafarers’ unions, we remain committed to promoting recognition of the extraordinary role of merchant seafarers and the important and vital work that they do for the global community.”

The celebrations – attended by more than 2,000 seafarers and their families – were held in Manila at the SMX Conference Centre. The event was addressed by the IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim and followed the theme of ‘At Sea for All’, with music and cultural acts, as well as a health zone for seafarers and a children’s activity area.

Download Mr Borromeo’s speech.