Statement by the NATO Spokesperson on lives lost at sea

  • 29 Mar. 2012 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 29 Mar. 2012 18:47

The loss of life on a migrant boat in the Mediterranean in late March last year was a very tragic incident. To help determine what happened, NATO provided a significant amount of information to the Council of Europe.

All forces under NATO command are fully aware of their obligations under maritime law. On 27 March 2011, we received a general notice from the Italian authorities of a small boat probably in difficulty, which requested to advise of any sighting. This was sent to all NATO ships according to usual practice. We have no record of any NATO aircraft or ship having seen or made contact with this particular boat.

In fact, throughout our arms embargo mission last year, NATO ships and aircraft directly assisted in the rescue of over 600 people, and helped coordinate the rescue of many others. And throughout, we immediately notified the responsible national coast guards, as well as the International Organisation for Migration and the United Nations High Commissioner's Office for Refugees.

Attached are the two letters that NATO sent to the Council of Europe to help determine what happened.

To the right side you will find sample photos showing NATO vessels rescuing a stricken boat off the Libyan coast during the United Nations mandated arms embargo mission led by the Alliance.