[WATCH] NGOs reiterate calls for safe port as weather conditions continue to deteriorate

Over 500 rescued migrants are stranded at sea on two different rescue vessels

Some of the rescued migrants have been stranded at sea for close to two weeks
Some of the rescued migrants have been stranded at sea for close to two weeks

More than 500 migrants remain stranded at sea without a safe port to disembark as weather conditions continue to deteriorate.

151 people are currently on the Open Arms which is operated by the NGO Proactiva Open Arms, including a group of 39 migrants rescued by the vessel within Malta’s search and rescue area. Some of the migrants were rescued almost two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the vessel Ocean Viking, which is operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), is reported to have 356 people on board who rescued in four operations over a four-day period.

“Weather conditions have deteriorated, with increased swell for the next 24. Hours. People on the Ocean Viking are suffering from seasickness,” SOS Mediterranee tweeted on Wednesday.

The NGO added that remaining at sea could not be a solution and that those on board should be disembarked at a place of safety as soon as possible.

MSF similarly said that it could only offer temporary relief to those on board and that a proper solution needed to be found.

“If the situation on board was already a difficult one, weather conditions have now made it more dramatic,” Proactiva Open Arms said.

“Do European states really allow such a thing? What do you call this if not a humanitarian emergency? Where are you?”

Despite repeated calls for the vessels to be given a safe port to disembark passengers, the requests so far appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Since Italy’s decision to close all of its ports to NGO-operated rescue vessels, similar incidents have been resolved through agreements between EU member states negotiated by the European Commission.

It is unclear whether any such talks are underway, but a spokesperson for the European Commission was yesterday quoted saying there were no negotiations.

Yesterday, the UNHCR called on European leaders who had expressed shock at the killing of 50 migrants in an airstrike on a Libyan detention centre, and at the drowning of 150 people earlier this year, to put their money where their mouth is.

Opposition leader Adrian Delia has also appealed to the government to show mercy towards the stranded migrants and to “rise above populism” by putting human lives first.