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Belgian frigate Louise-Marie saves Somali “migrants” en route to Yemen

(BRUSSELS2) The Belgian frigate Louise-Marie, which is part of the European anti-piracy force Eunavfor Atalanta, deployed off the coast of Somalia, came to the rescue, on September 14, of a boat in distress with 46 people on board, we learn from Atalanta HQ.

It was 8 a.m., while the frigate was on patrol in the International Corridor (IRTC) in the Gulf of Aden, the military noticed a boat sinking with people who had already dove into the water. The helicopter took off to help search for possible survivors. In all, 38 people were collected on board the Belgian ship, and rescued with drinks, food and treatment. The search continued, by helicopter, with the assistance of a maritime patrol plane, a P3 Orion from the Japanese forces. 2 bodies were spotted. But 6 people are missing and presumed dead. The survivors were disembarked at the Yemeni port of Mulkalla.

This European military assistance to a boat loaded with illegal migrants may seem anachronistic. But it is the strict application of the laws of the sea which oblige any captain at sea to assist a ship in distress. A rule unfortunately not respected by all the (numerous) ships sailing in the region, denounced a UNHCR spokesperson on September 15. According to the UNHCR in Geneva, around 65 people died or disappeared on the same day in the Gulf of Aden, immigrants who had left at sea from Somalia to Yemen. According to the international organization, around 43.800 people on board 860 boats made the trip. For at least 273 people, this trip will have been the last. They disappeared at sea or died during the journey (read the UNHCR press release).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).