Almost 400 migrants stranded at sea as European nations undecided on their fate
By Our Reporter
August 30, 2020 - Almost 400 migrants remained stranded in the central Mediterranean on Sunday, after a dangerously overcrowded rescue boat was emptied of all its passengers.
The Louise Michel, part of a charity mission sponsored by British street artist Banksy, launched a Mayday call late Friday after picking up more than 200 people.
Over the course of Saturday, 49 were taken in by the Italian coastguard, while the rest were transferred onto another charity vessel, the German-flagged Sea-Watch 4.
“#LouiseMichel no longer has guests onboard, but the struggle of the survivors is not over,” a Twitter account for the rescue ship said on Sunday.
It added: “#Europe! #SOLAS (an international treaty) obliges you to rescue at sea. Open your ports now!”
The Sea-Watch 4 has about 350 migrants aboard, including people from previous rescues.
There are also 27 migrants, who have been on the Maersk Etienne, a Danish tanker, for more than three weeks.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) jointly called on Saturday for the “immediate disembarkation” of all migrants still at sea.
EU countries’ inability to agree who should take them in “is not an excuse to deny vulnerable people a port of safety and the assistance they need, as required under international law,” they said.
Standoffs over migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean have been playing out for years, with Italy and Malta usually reluctant to welcome them.
The two countries have long said they are disproportionately affected by Europe-bound sea migration from North Africa, and that there is insufficient burden-sharing across the European Union.