ON BOARD OCEAN VIKING (AFP)
The Ocean Viking, the last humanitarian boat in the Mediterranean, with 356 people rescued on board, "still waiting for an answer from the European states" Wednesday, told AFP Frédéric Penard, the director of operations of SOS Mediterranean which is off the ship with Médecins sans Frontières.
On Tuesday evening, the last survivors on the Spanish Open Arms boat were allowed to land on the Italian island of Lampedusa after 19 days of waiting at sea and many adventures.
But no response has been made to repeated requests from the Ocean Viking who is waiting for the tenth day in the Sicilian Channel between Malta and Lampedusa, said Penard, via Whatsapp, to an AFP journalist who found on board.
In accordance with maritime law, "on the 9th of August, at the Rescue Coordination Centers in Italy and Malta, we requested the appointment of a safe port to land the rescued persons. For the moment, we have had no response from Italy and a rather negative response from Malta, "continued Penard.
"We are forced to wait for the European states to get underway," he said, noting the statements of the French Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, who proposed Tuesday night to host in France "35 to 45 migrants" of the Ocean Viking.
"We know that several European states are working on a solution and (...) want to finish with these solutions on a case-by-case basis and set up a system" for the reception of migrants, the official noted. "This is what we are asking for, but these people must disembark now: negotiations can not take place when more than three hundred people are stuck at sea in difficult conditions," he said.
"Today, we are waiting for this solution to be unblocked as soon as possible," Penard added.
Starting on 4 August from Marseille, the Ocean Viking, the vessel that replaces the Aquarius of SOS Mediterranean, carried out four rescue operations in international waters off Libya between 9 and 12 August. Since then, no humanitarian ship has patrolled the area despite numerous departures from the Libyan coast.
© 2019 AFP