The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has pledged its support for the Government of Mauritius in its response to the ecological crisis caused by the spill of over 1,000 tons of oil off the Mauritius coast.

The spill, caused by a Japanese-owned vessel running around 1.6km off the shore of Mauritius in July has trigged an international response.

IOM, as part of the Socio-Economic and Environmental Impact Evaluation Team, led by the UN resident coordinator, is using recourses to deliver technical support and expertise to help the government mitigate the risks of the evolving ecological crisis on people’s livelihoods and address displacement challenges. 

The latest satellite data shows that the oil spill from the MV Wakashio now stretches across 27 square kilometres along the east coast of Mauritius, from Blue Bay Marine Park to the tourist island of Ile aux Cerfs. 

IOM Head of Office Mauritius and Seychelles Céline Lemmel said: “Though we must focus our efforts on the immediate response, long-term impacts on these vulnerable communities and livelihoods should also be critically assessed.”

The UN, along with the international community, local authorities, the private sector, civil society organisations and local community volunteers are working collectively to help contain the crisis.

The immediate priority in the area is to stop the oil leakages and clear the affected areas.   

The government of Mauritius declared “a state of emergency” on 7 August, a day after the vessel began leaking oil, leading to an appeal for international aid.

The Ministry of Environment has registered approximately 13 villages, which are affected by the spill and that are in need of immediate and longer-term assistance.  

An investigation by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, the company responsible for the MV Wakashio vessel, is still trying to determine the cause of the incident.