Switzerland rejects flagging of search and rescue vessel

Aquarius, later renamed Aquarius 2, in 2012 Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ra Boe Aquarius, later renamed Aquarius 2, in 2012

The Swiss government rejected on Friday, November 30, a proposal by the country’s parliament to allow the search and rescue (SAR) vessel Aquarius 2 to sail under the Swiss flag.

The government had cited as its reason the need to have a coordinated long-term migrant rescue effort among European countries that also includes the establishment of safe embarkation points. Individual ad hoc actions such as those conducted by vessels like Aquarius 2 would only serve to undermine international cooperation by presenting a temporary solution with minimal impact, the government said.

Operated by non-government organisations SOS Méditerranée and Doctors Without Borders, Aquarius 2 had sailed under the Panamanian flag until September of this year when the Central American country’s government announced that it will remove the vessel from its registry.

The vessel, currently idled in Marseille, has since remained flagless and thus unable to resume rescue operations of migrants in the Central Mediterranean Sea.

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