Sea-Watch slams 'Christian' Malta for refusing rescued migrants

The German NGO accused Malta, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands of refusing to help the stranded rescue vessel, which is carrying 32 rescued migrants, to find a port of safety • Sea-Watch 3 heading towards boat carrying 75 migrants

The Sea-Watch 3 has been stranded in the Mediterranean for six days as it awaits clearance from safe port
The Sea-Watch 3 has been stranded in the Mediterranean for six days as it awaits clearance from safe port

The German NGO Sea-Watch has called out five European Union member states for their failure to help a stranded rescue vessel find a safe port to disembark 32 rescued migrants.

In a statement Sea-Watch said Spain, Germany, Italy, Malta and the Netherlands - “five countries of the so-called Christian West” - had denied the Sea-Watch 3 any help in finding a port of safety over the Christmas holidays.

It said the ship remained stranded at sea, in “yet another political limbo” which lays bare the European Union’s reluctance to make even the smallest humanitarian concession to its “deadly anti-migration policy”.

“Already on Saturday, the crew of the Sea-Watch 3 has saved 32 people from drowning, including four women, three unaccompanied minors, two young children and a baby,” the NGO said. “Five countries (Malta, Italy, Spain, the Netherland, Germany) refused to take responsibility and grant the recused a port of safety for Christmas.”

The rescue vessel was situated midway between Malta and Lampedusa as of 10 am Thursday morning
The rescue vessel was situated midway between Malta and Lampedusa as of 10 am Thursday morning

Philip Hahn, Sea-Watch 3’s Head of Mission, said it had been six days now that the vessel had been left stranded and denied a port of safety. “We are well equipped, but the winter in the Mediterranean, with its treacherous weather, is taking its toll on the already weakened people. Europe must take responsibility now, and Germany should set a good example.”

The NGO added that in Germany alone, more than 30 cities and several states had already declared themselves to be safe havens that were willing to accept “those rescued from distress at sea”.

READ MORE: Christmas at sea: 344 people rescued with no safe port as NGO fears deterioration in weather

“Sea-Watch, therefore, demands that the German Federal Government and the Minister of the Interior, Horst Seehofer, make use of Article 23 of the Residence Act, providing those who fled war, torture and death in Libya with a solution that does justice to human rights, the Geneva Convention on Refugees and the alleged European values.

“It is an act of shame and inhumanity that Germany and Europe not only push away their responsibility, but also reject the offer of cities to accept the rescued.”

In a tweet later in the day, Sea Watch said it had received an emergency call from the Rome Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre informing transitting vessels of a dinghy carrying 75 migrants which was in distress. 

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