[WATCH] Shocking footage shows desperation of migrants aboard cargo ship

Captain of the Talia, Mohammad Shaaban, tells MaltaToday the situation aboard the Lebanese livestock cargo ship is becoming 'unsustainable' as 52 rescued migrants on board are refused disembarkation by Malta

Captain Mohammad Shaaban: 'The situation is bad, I am running out of food and water'
Captain Mohammad Shaaban: 'The situation is bad, I am running out of food and water'

The situation on board the Lebanese livestock cargo ship Talia has deteriorated rapidly and is becoming "unsustainable", Captain Mohammad Shaaban told MaltaToday, relaying the plight of 52 rescued migrants.

"The situation is bad, I am running out of food and water," Shaaban said speaking to this paper during a phone interview on Tuesday.

The ship which is currently hosting 52 migrants rescued from a sinking dinghy after escaping from Libya is used for the transport of livestock, forcing the crew to host the guests in “subhuman” conditions.

The captain said that migrants had come to speak to the crew asking for blankets, pillows and beds, but that there were no additional materials on the ship, and that for now, he was unable to transfer them from the stables.

“This is a place for animals, not for humans. Malta or Italy must take these people; I do not have the money, the company cannot bear the losses… The migrants are now staying on the sixth floor which is a problem because our ship has not yet been cleaned, so there is residue from the previous voyage,” he said.

Captain Mohammad Shaaban of the Talia
Captain Mohammad Shaaban of the Talia

The majority of the migrants onboard the Talia are from Somalia and Djibouti, and many need urgent medical care after surviving the war in Libya, as well as a number of days at sea, he added. Shaaban said that the mental health of the migrants had taken a turn for the worst and that they were "demoralised."

On Tuesday Shaaban wrote a letter to the Rescue Coordination Center of Malta (RCC MALTA) detailing the situation of the migrants aboard the vessel. He confirmed that as of tomorrow the ship would not be able to provide food and water, “the immigrants will remain without food until they are disembarked from the ship,” he said.

Shaaban said that migrants had now begun fighting each other as problems had arisen between them and that the situation was becoming very dangerous. “I ask that security is sent to protect them from each other and to protect the crew,” he said.

A spokesperson for Alarm Phone told Maltatoday that the situation remained unchanged and that no offer has been made from Malta to remedy the situation.  

On Sunday, the ship was allowed into Maltese territorial waters to seek shelter from adverse weather conditions. It, however, has not received permission from Malta to enter the country’s port.

Malta is insisting it will not disembark the migrants until it has a European agreement for their relocation. Malta and Italy have faced the brunt of migrant arrivals from Libya since the start of the year.

Last month, the government went back on its policy to keep rescued migrants on chartered tourist ships outside territorial waters after the situation became unsustainable. More than 400 migrants were eventually brought ashore but yesterday the government announced that agreement had been reached with other EU countries for the relocation of 280 people.

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