Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Camp Of The Saints Meets The Raft Of The Medusa

A scene that could not have been dis-similar to that depicted in Gericault's 'The Raft of the Medusa' was reported in the 'World Bulletin' section of today's 'Daily Telegraph'. The section is not online.

It began, 'Cruise liner rescues illegal immigrants adrift in ocean', and continued,

"An Italian cruise liner was transformed into a floating refugee centre after it rescued a boatload of dehydrated and hungry illegal immigrants adrift in the Atlantic.

The Panama registered Melody was on its way from Genoa to Rio de Janeiro when a boat carrying 36 Moroccans was spotted in trouble about 80 miles off the coast of Senegal.

After waiting five hours for international rescue services to arrive, the ships's captain, Antonio di Palma, decided to clear the crews' quarters and bring the migrants on board.

"Taking all the security measures required in such circumstances the embarkation was carried out in less than a quarter of an hour", he said.

Shortly afterwards the migrants 36' boat sank.

The Moroccans, who had left Guinea-Bissau on a roundabout route for Spain through notoriously treacherous waters prone to piracy, were taken in by the Senegalese authoritites in Dakar.

There were more than 1,000 passengers of different nationalities on board the Melody, which continued its journey to Brazil after the rescue last Thursday"

Captain di Palma is to be commended for his courtesy to fellow seafarers in distress; and grudging kudos also goes to the Telegraph for acknowledging that some immigrants can actually be illegal.

Although in this case they may perhaps be being too harsh. It would be a point of law worthy of Grotius whether a person on the high seas who intends to become an illegal immigrant actually achieves that status before they reach their destination.

But this incident does make one thing absolutely clear - the standard of North African seamanship is definitely slipping...