Connect with us

Archives

EU Leaders to Boost Rescue Operations after Migrant Boat Disaster

Published

on

….As Libya stops boats packed with hundreds of migrants leaving for Europe

 European Union leaders, under pressure to act to stop more migrants dying in the Mediterranean, will agree at a crisis summit on Thursday to boost search and rescue operations and step up the fight against traffickers.

Public outrage over the death of up to 900 migrants last Sunday when their boat sank on its way to Europe from Libya has led EU governments to reverse last year’s decision to scale down search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

The leaders are expected to agree in Brussels on reinforcing EU operations in the Mediterranean, probably by doubling the cash and equipment available to two EU border patrol missions, a senior EU diplomat said.

Their area of operations will also be extended, meaning EU ships would be better placed to spot and rescue migrant boats in trouble off the North African coast.

“On Thursday our overriding priority is to prevent more people from dying at sea,” European Council President Donald Tusk said in his invitation letter to the leaders.

The EU has struggled for years to forge an effective joint strategy to handle migrants fleeing war and turmoil in Africa and the Middle East despite repeated tragedies at sea.

“The stakes are very high on Thursday. EU heads of state have the responsibility of the region’s human rights credibility on their shoulders and they need to take firm action to save lives,” Iverna McGowan, head of rights group Amnesty International’s Brussels office, told a news conference.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy, which has borne the brunt of caring for thousands of desperate migrants, said on Wednesday the EU must take a collective stand to tackle human trafficking at source in African countries.

Last year Italy closed a sea rescue mission that had saved the lives of more than 100,000 migrants, despite warnings from activists at the time that this would mean more deaths. The mission was replaced with a smaller EU scheme whose main focus was to patrol the bloc’s borders.

TARGETING TRAFFICKERS
Some EU countries, including Germany and Britain, were worried that the search and rescue mission would encourage more migrants to take to rickety boats.

One of the proposals the European Commission will submit on Thursday envisages a military and civilian mission to capture and destroy the traffickers’ boats.

“We know where the boats are, where the smugglers gather together the people who are fleeing,” Italian Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti told Italy’s SkyTG24 television.

The leaders will also discuss a pilot project to resettle 5,000 to 10,000 refugees from Mediterranean countries to other EU states, the senior diplomat said.

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, head of the African Union Commission, said in Brussels on Wednesday that African nations must increase jobs and educational opportunities to discourage young Africans from leaving for Europe, reports Reuters.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Libya has stopped several boats packed with Africans trying to reach Italy’s shores in the past three days, detaining more than 600 immigrants, a security official said on Tuesday.

The North African country, gripped by violence and a breakdown of state authority four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, has turned into major hub for human traffickers smuggling African emigrants by boat to Italy.

As many as 900 people may have died on Sunday off Libya’s coast when their packed boat capsized as they were trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa. [ID:nL5N0XI21W]
More than 36,000 have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year, the U.N. says, mostly using Libya as their launch pad, and nearly 1,800 are feared to have died in the attempt.

Libyan security forces detained on Tuesday around 70 Africans in Tripoli where they were waiting for smugglers to put them on a boat bound for Lampedusa, a senior immigration official told Reuters in Tripoli.

At least two boats, one packed with some 250 people from Senegal, Ghana and Ethiopia and other African nationalities and another one with Ethiopians and Eritreans on board, were stopped in the past three days after sailing off from Libya, he said.

Captured immigrants are held in often cramped detention centres in Libya, sometimes for months on end, human rights groups say.

Libya’s coast guards have few resources to combat human trafficking, and rely on fishing and tug boats.

The European Union helped in the past to train and equip Libyan coast guards, but a worsening security situation has forced foreign training staff to leave the country.

A self-declared Libyan government controlling Tripoli has appealed to foreign countries to help it fight human trafficking but European powers are boycotting the administration which took power after an armed group seized the capital in August.

World powers only recognise premier Abdullah al-Thinni who has been based with his cabinet in the east since losing control of the capital last summer.

On Monday, the European Union proposed doubling the size of its Mediterranean search and rescue operations after a decision to scale back naval operations last year appeared to have increased the risks for migrants without reducing their numbers, reports Reuters.

Archives

WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

Published

on

…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

Continue Reading

Archives

Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

Published

on

The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

Continue Reading

Archives

Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

Published

on

…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

Continue Reading

Editor’s Pick

Politics