The operators of the rescue vessel Ocean Viking have officially asked Italy and Malta for permission to disembark the 356 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean at one of their ports. After four days of search and rescue in the central Mediterranean, Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranée asked the authorities for "support to find a place of safety".
The refugees showed "signs of physical and psychological violence that they experienced while traveling through Libya," the two non-governmental organizations write and exclude a return to the North African country. The ports are not safe there.
Also the "Open Arms" asks for help
Also, the Spanish rescue vessel Open Arms with 151 migrants on board has been waiting for a safe haven for almost two weeks. The situation on board is "with each day heavier," said the aid organization Proactiva Open Arms.
The NGO called on the Spanish embassy in Malta to accept the 31 minors on board. "They meet the conditions to be recognized as refugees," Spanish media quoted a letter from Captain Marc Reig to the diplomatic mission.
Although the Maltese government was ready to let two women in need of medical care and six family members ashore. Italy, too, had taken in one patient - but everyone else must persevere on the ship.
The aid organization had criticized Malta's decision because it triggered tension on the ship. The founder of Proactiva Open Arms, Oscar Camps, spoke of a "serious safety problem on board". The survivors suffered from "unbearable" anxiety.
Spain rejects allegations
Spain's Transport Minister José Luis Ábalos said the captain has no legal authority to seek asylum for the youth. The Open Arms have not officially asked to call a Spanish port, said Ábalos.
The German rescue ship Alan Kurdi meanwhile moved from the rescue zone off Libya and is located in Spain. "There we will take a short break for maintenance and for our crew change," said Sea Eye spokesman Gorden Isler. At the end of August, the sea rescue rescuers want to return to the Libyan coast.