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French Mistrals May Be Used to Save Refugees in Mediterranean

France might have figured out the best way to use its two Mistral ships, currently stationed at a port in Saint-Nazaire without a purpose. Thierry Mariani, a member of the French National Assembly, suggested using the helicopter carriers to save undocumented African refugees in the Mediterranean Sea.

Two French Mistral-class helicopter carriers, which were sold and supposed to be delivered to Russia, might be used in the Mediterranean Sea to save African refugees who perish en masse trying to cross from North Africa to Europe, French Le Figaro reported.

The French government has been at wits' end trying to find the best way to let Paris to save its face after the embarrassing situation with the failed delivery of its two Mistrals to Russia who already paid upfront 1.2 billion euros for the ships. France thought about deconstructing the two helicopter carriers and re-selling them to third parties. However, Russia said France cannot do that, citing a specific contract clause that prohibits the re-export of arms deals.

The Sevastopol mistral warship is on its way for its first sea trials, on March 16, 2015 off Saint-Nazaire - Sputnik International
Cancel of Mistral Deal is ‘Ridiculous’ Decision for Paris - French Media
Currently, the Mistrals are berthed at the port in Saint-Nazaire. The upkeep and maintenance of the ships is costing French tax payers 5 million euros per months. Some military experts even suggested sinking the ships, since France cannot even re-sell them.

Thierry Mariani, a member of the French National Assembly and the former minister of transport, suggested an alternative idea. France could use the ships in the Mediterranean Sea to save the lives of undocumented African refugees, who die in large numbers trying to cross into Europe. The ships could be used as temporary shelters and medical stations could be installed on the deck to help out those in need.

"This would help to save the maximum number of people and solve the issues of granting them asylum right on board," Mariani said.

Furthermore, the former minister of transportation argued that if there is a crisis situation in the Mediterranean, the Mistrals could be sent to save European citizens in affected countries.

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