World, Europe

EU not taking responsibility for migrants: NGO

Humanitarian ship carrying 62 rescued migrants remains stuck in Mediterranean, denied safe harbor by EU countries

Busra Nur Bilgic   | 11.04.2019
EU not taking responsibility for migrants: NGO

ANKARA

An aid ship belonging to a German humanitarian group, is still stranded in the Mediterranean and denied safe port from, the organization’s spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Denied docking rights from Malta, the Alan Kurdi -- named after a young Syrian boy drowned while trying to make it to Europe -- is still idling in international waters to the east of the island country, Carlotta Weibl, spokeswoman of Sea-Eye, told Anadolu Agency.

"The situation on board is really tough. We still have 62 people on board plus 17 crew members and the boat is really not made for so many people," said Weibl, adding that two women had been evacuated due to medical reasons.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station -- a non-governmental organization -- brought blankets and other apparel to the vessel’s passengers, who were allowed to restock the ship with water and food, Weibl said.

While negotiations are ongoing between Germany and the rest of the EU to evenly distribute migrants across the bloc, Sea-Eye was not aware on the current state of the process, she added.

"We are very upset about the fact we are in the right and still we are treated as criminals.

"These people are denied their human rights by politicians who are always so proud of our European values and human rights," said Weibl.

'EU should not block and criminalize civil search and rescue'

EU countries need to establish legal escape routes and humanitarian visas for migrants and refugees so they would not need to enter the "dangerous rubber boats in the first place."

"But as long as that is not the case, they [EU states] should either adhere to their responsibility and do search and rescue in the Mediterranean and not source everything out to criminals and warlords in Libya," she added.

Stressing that it was illegal according to International Law to take migrants back to Libya, Weibl blasted EU members for "blocking and criminalizing" civil search and rescue

"Currently they are not taking responsibility at all," she said.

Situation in Libya

The current crisis in Libya is likely to affect migration flows through central Mediterranean, according to Weibl.

"MSF [Doctors Without Borders] confirms the fear that the migrants and refugees in Libyan detention camps are especially hard hit by the fighting. They cannot flee easily. Water and food provisions are disrupted even more and electricity fails," she said.

"We cannot really prepare for it. We will try to get back into the SAR zone as quick as possible after this mission, but we cannot do much more than continue our usual work," she added.

On April 3, the ship rescued 64 irregular migrants, including 12 women, one child and one infant off the Libyan coast. According to a statement by Sea-Eye, Malta, Italy and Libya have denied the migrants from their territory.

More than 250 international non-governmental organizations -- including Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Sea Watch -- wrote an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week asking for her support on changing the EU’s refugee policy regulations.

The organizations listed three requests from Merkel; an emergency action plan for refugee boats, safe harbors for refugees and no return to Libya.

Some 30,510 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while making the treacherous journey to Europe, the UN agency reported in early January.

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