An NGO is calling on the EU to intervene and help coordinate the disembarkation of 572 people, including 183 minors, stranded outside Maltese territorial waters.
SOS Mediterranee, whose vessel Ocean Viking is holding the group of migrants, said that “a solution must be found immediately” after five requests to the competent maritime authorities were ignored. The boat is caught between Maltese and Italian territorial waters.
“Making survivors wait on the deck of our ship, exposed to the sun and elements, is inhumane. It is beyond imagination. Inevitably, tensions and exhaustion are at the utmost onboard the Ocean Viking,” Luisa Albera, who is onboard Ocean Viking said.
Tensions on board the vessel are increasing. Tomorrow, the vessel will un out of pre-packed 24-hour food kits and will not be able to fulfil all survivors’ nutritional needs by Saturday.
Meanwhile, yesterday evening, a man in acute psychological distress jumped overboard.
“He explained his desperate gesture by saying that he could have held on should he had known when the disembarkation would take place, but that he ‘could not take the uncertainty anymore’,” the NGO said.
“Making survivors wait on the deck of our ship, exposed to the sun and elements, is inhumane. It is beyond imagination. Inevitably, tensions and exhaustion are at the utmost onboard the Ocean Viking.”
Migration has long been a major issue for successive governments in Malta – and is yet to be properly addressed by European authorities, with border countries often shouldering responsibility for the crisis.
Boats regularly arrive on Maltese shores, though some do not make it. In Easter 2020, at least 12 people died at sea, a tragedy dubbed “an Easter Massacre” by local NGO Repubblika. The group accused Prime Minister Robert Abela and other officials of giving orders for an illegal pushback against conventions of international law.
🔴#OceanViking: Still no port assigned to disembark 572 people. The situation is worsening by the hour. Our medical team reports increasing cases of psychological distress. The absence of information is no longer bearable for survivors. In the summer heat, tensions arise on deck. pic.twitter.com/WW5HHcgKWj
— SOS MEDITERRANEE (@SOSMedIntl) July 8, 2021
Photo source: SOS Mediterranee
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