Published: Thu, August 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Spain and Italy refuse new Aquarius-rescued migrants

Spain and Italy refuse new Aquarius-rescued migrants

The Aquarius, run by Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), picked up the people in two separate operations and is in global waters between Italy and Malta. It is believed they had been at sea for almost 35 hours.

Most of the group are from Somalia and Eritrea and include 67 unaccompanied minors and a pregnant woman.

Earlier on Monday, Malta's armed forces rescued 114 migrants from a rubber dinghy taking on water 53 nautical miles (100 km) south of Malta and brought them back to the island.

The Aquarius was sailing north in the Mediterranean Sunday in hopes of receiving docking permission from another country.

In a statement the Maltese government said the rescue made by the Aquarius took place off the Libyan coast, closer to Libya, Tunisia and Italy (Lampedusa) in an operation which was coordinated by the Libyan authorities.

Aboard Aquarius is Doctors Without Borders' project coordinator, Aloys Vimard, who elaborated.

"Policies created to prevent people from reaching Europe at all costs are resulting in more suffering and forcing those who are already vulnerable to take even riskier journeys to safety".

Though departures from Libya have fallen dramatically this year, people smugglers are still pushing some boats out to sea.

Simona Halep tops Sloane Stephens to win Montreal title
Yet Halep saved two set points, and two more in the tie-break, before eventually taking the opener after 70 punishing minutes. In a rematch of Halep's French Open final victory, she overcame Stephens in the match that had 15 service breaks.

Due to pressure from Italy and Malta, most charity ships are no longer patrolling off the coast of Libya.

The people rescued told the crew that several ships passed them by without offering assistance, according to SOS Mediterranee.

"The vessel [Aquarius ] is now in worldwide waters off Malta and the island of Lampedusa, awaiting the designation of a safe port in accordance with global maritime law", SOS Mediterranee chief Sophie Beau told French radio station France Info. The migrants will be brought to Malta in the afternoon, sources said.

The migrants were rescued last week after their two wooden boats capsized.

More than 650,000 migrants have come to Italy's shores since 2014, and Rome has accused its European Union peers of not sharing the burden of taking in those who arrive on the bloc's southern border.

"We're asking all European countries to find a solution". People rescued in the global waters of the Mediterranean must not be returned to Libya, but should be taken to a place of safety in line with worldwide and maritime law. But with Italy's crackdown, commercial ships risk being blocked for days at sea, unable to carry out their business.

SOS Mediterranee said the Libya rescue coordination center didn't inform it about migrant boats in distress despite knowing the Aquarius was nearby. "It was extremely fortunate that we spotted these boats in distress ourselves".

Like this: