Aid Ship Stuck at Sea

Italy and Malta refuse safe harbor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 4, 2019 7:45 PM CDT
Ship With Rescued Migrants Stuck in Mediterranean Sea
Migrants on a rubber dinghy are rescued Wednesday by the Sea-Eye rescue ship in the waters off Libya.   (Fabian Heinz/ via AP)

A humanitarian aid ship carrying 64 rescued migrants was stuck in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday as both Italy and Malta refused it safe harbor, leaving the migrants sleeping in cramped conditions on deck as a storm approached. The refusal sets the stage for another Mediterranean migrant standoff that can only be resolved if some European Union members agree to accept the asylum-seekers. Carlotta Weibl, spokeswoman for the German humanitarian organization Sea-Eye, said the ship was near the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday. "We have no idea yet where we can disembark," Weibl told the AP. "Malta says we can't enter their waters and we are unlikely to get permission from Italy."

Sea-Eye's ship, the Alan Kurdi, rescued the migrants Wednesday near Libya after Libyan authorities could not be reached. It did so as it was looking for another smuggling boat with 50 migrants that has been missing since Monday and for 40 other migrants missing at sea since last week. "The chances are low that they are alive," Weibl said. The 64 migrants picked up included a newborn baby and a child, the group said. But Weibl said that the ship is far too small for so many people and that people were sleeping outdoors on deck as it began to rain. Matteo Salvini, Italy's interior minister, said Wednesday that Italy would not accept the migrants and that since it was a German ship it should "go to Hamburg." Weibl said that suggestion was ridiculous. The German city of Hamburg is not even located on the Mediterranean Sea but on a river leading to the North Sea. "It's a journey of three to four weeks. We don't have food and water, so it's completely out of the question," she said. (Disaster has struck ships carrying migrants in the Mediterranean.)

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