The IMO has established a Stowaway Focal Point within the IMO's Maritime Safety Division as a result of the INTERCARGO/INTERTANKO submission to the IMO Facilitation Committee. The Focal Point is linked to the Head of Facilitation Section.
At the March meeting of the IMO Facilitation Committee, FAL 34, INTERCARGO and INTERTANKO presented a joint paper, with verbal support at the meeting from ICS, inviting consideration of a proposal to create an IMO "Stowaway Focal Point" (SFP). Subject to certain provisos, FAL 34 agreed in principle that an SFP should be put in place for a one year trial period to offer assistance in facilitating diplomatic assistance in order to assist the disembarkation of stowaways in circumstances where existing processes have been attempted but have not successfully resolved the problem.
In justifying this proposal, which had the primary intention of providing an additional resource for owners and masters facing the difficult and trying circumstances of attempting a timely and humanitarian repatriation of stowaways, due credit was given to the existing processes. The role of P&I clubs, flag states, and of the IMO and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were commended as being particularly successful in resolving most stowaway cases.
“We are delighted at this opportunity to have support from the IMO for a problem that ship owners and ship masters find difficult to solve in an efficient and law-abiding, yet humanitarian way”, says Roger Holt, Secretary General
of INTERCARGO. “We commend the IMO initiative and hope that ship owners will bring this valuable facility to the attention of their Flag States and Masters.”
The IMO attempted to quantify the scale of the stowaway problem by recording that there were 244 incidents involving 657 individuals in 2006, although it was tacitly admitted that some incidents had not been reported in accordance with the IMO reporting process outlined in IMO Resolution A.871 (20) adopted on 27 November 1997, and that consequently these statistics may under-represent the scale of the problem.
Encouraging Masters and Flag States to use the Stowaway Focal Point will also be an encouragement to provide more statistical information and therefore a more accurate indication of the scale of the problem.
To contact the Stowaway Focal Point and to send statistical reports on stowaways , vessels should use e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 207 587 3110 during IMO Working Hours remembering to seek the advice of their P&I Club / Flag State.