Stranded NGO vessel awaits reply from authorities

The Sea-Watch 3 has asked a number of EU member states to coordinate the rescue of 33 migrants as the weather at sea continues to deteriorate

The Sea-Watch 3 is requesting that a competent authority take over the the rescue operation
The Sea-Watch 3 is requesting that a competent authority take over the the rescue operation

A group of 33 migrants rescued by the NGO-operated vessel the Sea-Watch 3 remain stranded in the Mediterranean as the ship’s crew awaits directions from a competent authority.

The NGO said the 33 people, which includes several children were saved from drowning by the vessel.

“The ship is still taxing with 33 rescued people on board,” an NGO spokesperson told MaltaToday. “At the very least, we need a country that can coordinate the effort.”

The spokesperson said that Malta and Italy had told the ship that they were not the competent authority, with the Sea-Watch 3 being forced to contact the Libyan coast guard instead.

“We have no specific place we want to disembark the people, we just need to be in line with international law, and so it’s clear we cannot take them to Libya.”

The ship's crew, he said, has written to member states including Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands, requesting assistance.

Referring to instances over the summer when Malta and other member states took the lead in arriving at relocation agreements for such ad hoc situation, the spokesperson said that the NGO was trying different options to secure a safe port of call, including some sort of ad-hoc relocation initiative.   

Yesterday, the NGO called on the German government to find a solution before Christmas, insisting that “those who invoke Christian values” were now obliged to act.

"We expect Christmas Europe and especially the Christian parties to reflect on their values of charity and to allocate a safe haven to the rescued people as quickly as possible so that the shipwrecked on the wintry Mediterranean no longer have to be exposed to wind and weather,” Philip Hahn, Sea-Watch 3’s Head of Operations said.

As of Tuesday morning, the ship was roughly midway between Tripoli and Malta, heading towards Malta.

“The ship is well equipped and for the moment it remains stable, but yesterday the weather started to get worse and should continue to deteriorate,” the spokesperson said. “The situation is currently good but it can all change in an instant, which is why it is so important that we find  a safe port.”

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