UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), have urged European governments to swiftly offer a place of safety and allow the immediate disembarkation of nearly 600 people who remain on NGO vessels after being rescued in Maltese and Libyan search and rescue (SAR) zones on the Central Mediterranean.
“Italy’s efforts in the disembarkation of some 400 people, the most vulnerable on-board Humanity 1 and Geo Barents, including children traveling alone and others requiring urgent medical attention, are welcomed. However, a solution is urgently needed for all remaining survivors, on all four vessels at sea,” said a statement on UNHCR’s official website.
“Despite continuous advocacy efforts, the survivors, some of whom have been at sea for up to two weeks, remain stranded on board the four NGO SAR vessels. 234 people remain on the Ocean Viking boat, 217 on Geo Barents, 35 people are on Humanity 1 and another 88 on the Rise Above,” the statement pointed out.
“Those stranded need to be disembarked swiftly without any further delay,” it added.
The agencies called on states in the region to protect the lives of those rescued by ending the current impasse and offering a place of safety for disembarkation.
“Safe disembarkation should be followed by meaningful responsibility-sharing between all concerned states through regional, cooperative arrangements so that all coastal states can discharge their search, rescue and disembarkation responsibilities. A piecemeal and ad-hoc approach from the high seas which continues to leave coastal states alone cannot be so pursued and is not sustainable,” the statement explained.