Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Future Holds Unprecedented Diaspora as Another Abandoned Freight Vessel Discharges Migrant Cargo

After Crew Take to the Boats Once Again Italy is Left Literally Holding the Babies
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – NORTH AFRICA – MIDDLE EAST – As 2014 fades away it seems one of the biggest problems facing Europe in the New Year will be the continuing flood of displaced people fleeing war and poverty stricken hot spots from across the Mediterranean. This week we have witnessed another cargo vessel, steering and main engine locked by the crew before they abandoned ship, leaving between 6 and 700 migrants to their fate.

The Moldovan-flagged Blue Sky M was thought to be liable to crash into the Greek shoreline near Corfu but was diverted by coastguard and navy staff toward the southern Italian coast after they boarded the runaway vessel by helicopter. The situation has doubtless further strained relations between Greece and Italy which UN figures show took in 40,000 and 160,000 refugees respectively in the first eleven months of 2014. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has spoken out to say the continued escalation of migrant numbers will lead to major humanitarian tragedy in 2015.

The Blue Sky M has now docked at Gallipoli and discharged the migrants, some of whom have been hospitalised. Most are believed to be Kurdish and Syrian refugees, whom it is alleged, boarded the vessel in Körfez, Turkey with a destination proposed to the authorities as Croatia, an unusual route if true as the bulk of these journeys usually begin from Libya.

Meanwhile truckers transiting the English Channel are still being told to take responsibility for the security of their loads as migrants continue to seek ways of stowing aboard vehicles entering the UK from the continental Channel ports, with or without the driver’s knowledge. History has shown that freight drivers often take the initial blame in such incidents and often end up paying a price for their lack of vigilance.

So as the pirate threat, so long the major headline for the shipping press in recent years, diminishes, so an even more miserable picture for the coming year emerges, as the economic and military situations around the world lead to a series of unprecedented diaspora for the peoples involved.

Photo: This was the scene when another vessel recently discharged over 2,000 migrants at the Italian port of Campania after they had been rescued from various craft by the Italian Navy.