NGO blasts Benetton for ads featuring rescued migrants

MARSEILLE • French charity SOS Mediterranee has blasted clothing giant Benetton over an advertising campaign featuring a photo of migrants being rescued at sea.

"SOS Mediterranee fully dissociates itself from this campaign which displays a picture taken while our teams were rescuing people in distress at sea on June 9," it said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The picture - published online and in newspapers, according to the nongovernmental organisation - shows migrants in a dinghy wearing red life vests with the logo "United Colours of Benetton" at the bottom, reported Agence France-Presse.

The "dignity of survivors must be respected at all times", said SOS Mediterannee. "The human tragedy at stake in the Mediterranean must never be used for any commercial purposes," it added.

"SOS Mediterranee does not give its consent for any commercial use of its pictures," the NGO said.

A ship operated by SOS Mediterannee, the Aquarius, rescued 630 migrants in the Mediterranean last week. The vessel had been caught in a major row after Italy's populist government refused to allow the migrants to disembark.

The migrants, among them scores of children, were eventually taken to Spain.

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday said the number of refugees fleeing war, violence and persecution worldwide is "a central global question of our time", and described the situation as "simply unthinkable".

Speaking in Berlin, Dr Merkel said Germany stood by its obligation to protect people fleeing war and terrorism, The Associated Press reported.

"However you cut it, migration is a European challenge - perhaps our greatest challenge at the moment," Dr Merkel said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2018, with the headline 'NGO blasts Benetton for ads featuring rescued migrants'. Print Edition | Subscribe