Malta tells Germany it will refuse disembarkation to rescued Sea-Eye migrants

Shots fired by Libyan militia at migrant rescue vessel Alan Kurdi during the rescue of 68 people, endangering the work of its crew

Footage of the rescue taken by Sea-Eye
Footage of the rescue taken by Sea-Eye

The Italian and Maltese governments have told the German foreign ministry they will not agree to disembarkation of migrants rescued by the German migrant rescue charity Sea-Eye, due to the developing situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Accordingto Sea-Eye, the German government has advised the NGO to not undergo any further rescues and to call back its already deployed ships.

The Sea-Eye migrant rescue vessel Alan Kurdi yesterday reported that shots were fired by Libyan militia as it rescued 68 people from an overcrowded wooden boat in international waters off Libya’s coast on Monday afternoon. 

Sea-Eye said that during the rescue, a Libyan flagged speedboat endangered the work of its crew. “After shots were fired in the air, approximately half of the people on the wooden boat jumped into the water in panic without lifejackets and tried to swim towards the Alan Kurdi. The rescue boat crew deployed life-saving appliances and a so-called CentiFloat to save the people from drowning,” the NGO said.

The NGO said that after the situation calmed and the Libyans started to back off, all the people in distress were supplied with lifejackets and taken on-board.  

Sea-Eye said that while the first rescue was taking place, a second distress call north of Alan Kurdi’s position was picked up – the NGO explained that while the Italian offshore-supper Asso Ventinove had reached the second emergency several hours before the Alan Krdui, it did not commence any rescue efforts.   

“Due to its size, the Italian supply ship would have been significantly better suited to rescue the 82 persons, among them one pregnant woman, from the wooden boat. By reasoning that they had to stay put, so as to be able to assist the oil rigs close-by, in case of a possible accident there, the Asso Ventinove refused to rescue and denied responsibility for coordination. Hence, Alan Krudi also evacuated the second boat and is now looking for a port of safety, with a total of 150 rescued people on board,” Sea-Eye said.

The NGO said that both the Italian and Maltese ministries made it clear to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that they would not agree to disembarkation, even if the distribution of the rescued persons would be arranged – due to the developing situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Sea-Eye said that the response, the German Federal Foreign Minister advised the NGO to not undergo any further rescues and to call back its already deployed ships.

“Every human life is valuable. We are sure, that the German Federal Foreign Minister will succeed in taking on additional responsibility for 150 people. After all, Germany is our flag state. During the past few days, the Federal Government has successfully repatriated 200,000 of its own citizens from abroad in an immense effort. It must be imaginable and humanly possible to send an aircraft for 150 safety-seeking people to Southern Europe in order to immediately evacuate these people. In Germany, there are approximately 150 cities in the Coalition of Safe Ports who declared their readiness to receive people on the move,” chairman of Sea-Eye e. V Gorden Isler said.