MSF statement following meeting at Italian Ministry of Interior re Code of Conduct for SAR NGOs

Tuesday, July 25, 2017 — Today (July 25) a meeting was held at the Italian Ministry of Interior to start a consultation process on the Code of Conduct that has been proposed to regulate the work of humanitarian organisations involved in search and rescue in the Central Mediterranean sea.  Throughout the meeting, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) representatives reiterated our willingness to participate in discussions about the content of this code in an open and constructive way.  

Gabriele Eminente, General Director of MSF Italy: "MSF welcomes any effort that seeks to strengthen Search and Rescue (SAR) capacity in the Central Mediterranean and save lives. However, it is crucial that we have the opportunity to raise concerns about several elements of the current Code and seek clarity on ambiguities. We therefore hope that the consultation process will receive meaningful engagement from the Minister of Interior and that the points we raise will be considered and addressed. It is vital that any proposed Code will be based on the clear imperative to save lives at sea. Since the beginning of our Search and Rescue activities in May 2015, MSF has rescued more than 69,000 men, women and children. Our rescue operations have always been conducted in respect of national and international laws and under coordination of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in Rome. However, as the content and potential impact of this code is discussed, we must all remember that so far this year over 2,000 people have lost their lives in the Mediterranean sea, at least 13 this very afternoon."