Hundreds stranded on Mediterranean rescue boats

Elias Hubbard
August 14, 2019

French charity group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said late Monday in a tweet that it had completed "a critical rescue" of another 105 people onto the Ocean Viking, raising the total number of migrants on board ship to 356.

At least another 150 people remain on board the Spanish charity vessel, the Proactiva Open Arms.

MSF said that Libyan authorities have failed to provide a "place to disembark rescued people that meets the requirements of global law".

The agency said numerous people on the ships "are reportedly survivors of appalling abuses in Libya".

"We are now asking for a place of safety to disembark these vulnerable people without delay".

"It is a race against time", said Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR's special envoy for the central Mediterranean.

Under global law, the migrants should be taken to the closest safe port.

More than 500 rescued migrants are stuck in the Mediterranean on two NGO boats, as Italy and Malta continue to deny them access to their ports.

The 507 migrants and refugees are stranded on two NGO rescue vessels, which picked them up off the coast of Libya in recent days.

Italy's hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, reiterated Tuesday his intent to ensure that the ships don't enter Italian ports. "I will not give up", Salvini said on Tuesday.

Italian lawmakers passed legislation that threatens the arrest of captains and crews of rescue boats entering Italian waters.

France's president, Emmanuel Macron, has said migrants shouldn't have to choose between "being bombed in Libya or drowning in the Mediterranean".

Referring to the two migrants boats now stranded in the Mediterranean, Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration, said: "Temporary arrangements that provide for safe and predictable solutions for the persons rescued at sea are urgently needed in the Mediterranean".

The EU's executive commission said it has urged member countries to take action to resolve the status of the recently rescued passengers and stands ready to offer national governments support but can not act alone. Without doubt, right now that means Italy.

Abalos also called on European leaders to help forge a "wider" policy to handle migrant arrivals from Africa.

"There's nothing more we can do", a European Commission spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The United Nations' refugee agency (UNHCR) also urged European governments to intervene, warning that storms were approaching.

"To leave people who have fled war and violence in Libya on the high seas in this weather will only inflict more suffering".

Italy and Malta have refused to receive the humanitarian ship, which has been seeking authorization to dock for well over a week.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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