Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee


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Maritime Refugees

A refugee is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “ a ​person who has ​escaped from ​their own ​country for ​political, ​religious, or ​economic ​reasons or because of a ​war”. Maritime refugees, which includes those fleeing for economic and warzone reasons, take to the seas in the hopes of reaching a safer, more secure country. They move to preserve their lives or freedom, and have no protection from their own state. Without help, they may face death or spend the rest of their lives without rights.

Refugees often attempt to cross perilous waters in rickety boats and rafts unfit for the sea. This has led to attacks by pirates, the growth of smugglers and ultimately the death of the refugees. Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) and the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (1979), seafarers are now obliged to give aid to those in distress and mount rescue operations, regardless of the nationality, status or circu...

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