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News > Italy

NGO Demands European Leaders Allow Refugees to Disembark

  • German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch rescues migrants in the Mediterrean.

    German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch rescues migrants in the Mediterrean. | Photo: Sea-Watch.org

Published 19 June 2019

Fourty-three people are still waiting to disembark after waiting for a port for seven days.

German non-governmental organization Sea-Watch rescued 43 migrants off the coast of Libya and now is requesting European leaders immediate authorization to disembark the refugees who have been waiting for a port for seven days.


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“Many of the rescued need medical care and suffer from dehydration due to seasickness. The disembarkation of a part of the group had a strong psychological effect on the people remaining on board. These people need a port of safety, and they need it now,” said Verena Wurz, a medic on board the Sea-Watch 3.

On June 12, 53 people including 39 men, nine women, two toddlers and three unaccompanied minors were rescued while they were adrift, on an unseaworthy rubber boat 76 kilometers away from the Libyan coast. The Italian Coast Guard conducted a medical evaluation on board June 15 and decided the disembarkation of five vulnerable people and five companions.

After the rescue, Sea Watch 3 had been offered the port of Tripoli to transport the migrants back to Libya, but the NGO refused, pointing out that Libya is not a safe country and the ship arrived at the border of the Italian territorial waters on June 15.

“This unbearable situation cannot continue on World Refugee Day. The solution is there, more than 60 cities have declared their willingness to take people,” the NGO stated. As part of the international Seebrücke movement, more than 60 cities across Europe have indeed announced they were ‘"safe harbors" in solidarity with refugees, willing to receive more asylum seekers than the quotas imposed.

“As the EU ducks out, civil society takes responsibility. The offer of the solidarity cities to welcome people has been made. It is up to the EU and the German Federal Government to make this happen, and up to Italy to safely disembark these 43 people now. Soapbox speeches on World Refugee Day do not help anyone, what is needed is immediate action,” Captain Carola Rackete of the Sea-Watch 3 said.

Meanwhile, the Italian government approved Tuesday a security decree that gives the Interior Ministry, led by right-wing populist Matteo Salvini, the power to refuse access to Italian territorial waters to boats that it considers are at risk to the security or public order. The law criminalizes civil rescue organizations landing rescued people in Italy and boats that fail to respect ban orders face fines of up to 50,000 euros (US$56,500).

“Another tactic of Italy criminalizing the duty to sea rescue in the Mediterranean, and the rest of the EU standing by silently,” Philipp Hahn, Head of Mission on the Sea-Watch 3 explained.

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