French unions welcome Corsica Linea migrant rescue operation

17 September 2019

French maritime unions have expressed support for Corsica Linea's action in respecting international conventions, when its French flagged Mediterranée ferry deviated from its regular route between Algiers and Marseilles on Sunday 1 September, in a night-time rescue operation of 18 migrants, in danger of their lives on a scanty craft that had been without power for several days.

Corsica Linea managing director Pierre-Antoine Villanova, in reply to press coverage of the rescue operation, congratulated the ferry's crew for saving lives. The company was doing no more than its duty as a maritime operator in applying the law of the sea. The Spanish government had acted similarly in accepting without delay to receive the migrants, he said.

The ferry's crew gave medical treatment to the rescued migrants and ensured they were fed and could rest before landing them the following day at Alcudia, Majorca. The ship then returned to Marseilles to continue its normal route to Algiers.

The rescue action that was able to deliver those rescued to a safe port within 24 hours contrasts with the plight of NGO operated ships such as Open Viking and Open Arms, carrying hundreds of rescued migrants that in August had to wait up to two weeks off Malta before obtaining the go-ahead to enter a safe port.

While the Mediterranée successfully delivered migrants it rescued, the Lifeline NGO operated Eleonore, carrying about 100 migrants, had to wait a week in Italian territorial waters before it was arrested by the Italian authorities and authorised to land in Sicily.