Migrants aboard Open Arms should be brought to shore, Children's Commissioner says

Open Arms vessel operated by rescue NGO is carrying 160 migrants has been ten days at sea after Malta and Italy have refused entry 

Migrants aboard the rescue vessel Open Arms (Photo: Open Arms)
Migrants aboard the rescue vessel Open Arms (Photo: Open Arms)

The Office of the Commissioner for Children said that it was watching the proceedings of the Open Arms saga with "deep concern." The ship has been at sea since 2 August and is now somewhere between Lampedusa and Malta with no immediate hopes of disembarkation.

The Maltese government had previously dispatched an Armed Forces of Malta boat to take in 39 migrants but the NGO vessel declined the offer, urging Malta to take in a further 121. Malta refused.

Since then, the migrant rescue vessel has been at sea. Hopes of disembarking in Lampedusa had been quashed by Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini.

Open Arms is a few nautical miles away away from Lampedusa and Malta, drifting between the two islands
Open Arms is a few nautical miles away away from Lampedusa and Malta, drifting between the two islands

"The Office believes that the fundamental right to health and safety aboard the sea vessel, especially that of the children and unaccompanied minors, trumps any diplomatic negotiations that are holding up the disembarkation of these migrants in a safe port," the Children's Commissioner said in a statement on Monday.

It called for all political actors concerned both at national and European level to cooperate on a humanitarian level to ensure that the migrants are brought to safety on shore.

The government of Malta had said that it would not take in all the 160 migrants since 121 of them were intercepted in an area where "Malta is neither responsible nor the competent coordinating authority."

READ ALSO: NGO vessel declines Malta's offer to take in 39 migrants, insists all on board be allowed disembarkation

More in National