Over 500 Migrants Stranded in the Mediterranean Sea – No Port Willing to Let Them Dock

  • The humanitarian organizations SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders have been on the forefront helping stranded migrants.
  • Actor Javier Bardem sympathized with the immigrants. "Let Europe commit itself to bring people ashore and thus save its dignity."
  • Two children aged around 5 and 12 years old among the stranded migrants.

The Norwegian ship Ocean Viking saved another 105 migrants from Libya on Monday. There are a total of 356 people on board. At the same time, 150 migrants remain “trapped” on the Spanish Open Arms ship near the Italian island of Lampedusa. Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has ordered all  Italian ports closed for refugees and illegal migrants. Meanwhile, some migrants have reportedly been waiting on ships for over ten days.

SOS Méditerranée is a European, maritime-humanitarian organisation for the rescue of life at sea, currently operating in the Mediterranean sea in international waters north of Libya. The organization charteres the Aquarius in order to rescue people fleeing by sea from Libya and who risk drowning. The group was founded in June 2015 by German former captain Klaus Vogel and Frenchwoman Sophie Beau after the Italian navy ended the rescue operation Mare Nostrum in 2014. Its headquarters are based in Marseille, France.

On Monday, rescuers from the Ocean Viking spotted a blue boat about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Libya. There were 105 men and teenagers on board, mostly Sudanese, and two children aged around 5 and 12 years old. The rescue operation was more complicated than usual because more than half a dozen people fell into the water. However, the rescuers managed to evacuate them safely.

The humanitarian organizations SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders have been on the forefront helping stranded migrants. On Monday they said in a statement that the situation was complicated and it was bound to worsen. They said that a port was needed as soon as possible for the migrants to dock. The two organizations equally considered it “crazy” that they couldn’t bring people ashore and accused Europe of “total lack of humanity.”

People on board were visited and given gifts by the American actor Richard Gere, while Antonio Banderas expressed solidarity with the Spanish Open Arms ship. Another Spanish actor, Javier Bardem, also sympathized with the immigrants. “Let Europe commit itself to bring people ashore and thus save its dignity,” Bardem said.

Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Salvini when asked about actor Richard Gere: “Given this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him: he can take back to Hollywood, on his private plane, all the people aboard and support them in his villas,” he suggested. “Thank you Richard!”

The Maltese authorities contacted by Ocean Viking before Monday’s rescue operation refused to accept migrants on board, giving excuses. In Rome, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini confirmed “an absolute ban on the entry of these two foreign ships into Italian waters.”

“Let France, Spain or Norway open their ports,” said Salvini. In the past, Libya has proposed accepting ships with migrants, but most humanitarian NGOs are usually reluctant to send them to Libya because of the abuses and violence that migrants may be exposed to there. Joran Kallmyr, Norwegian Interior Minister, announced in a television interview that migrants from these vessels should be sent back to Africa: Libya or Tunisia.

Despite the closure of ports in Italy, authorities note an increase in the number of migrants arriving on the coast in small boats and yachts. In the last hours, 55 people came on a small yacht to Crotone in Calabria. Fourteen people got off the ship at Lampedusa, and 20 reached the beach near Agrigento in Sicily. According to the Italian news agency Ansa.

Probably one of the EU countries, as they have in the past, will decide to accept migrants. However, Brussels is looking for a systemic solution to the problem of migrants arriving on European coasts. Reports by the humanitarian organization International Organization for Migration (IOM), indicate that from the beginning of 2019, 39,500 migrants entered Europe. IOM also estimates that 840 people have drowned this year while trying to enter Europe.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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