The Malta Independent 8 December 2019, Sunday

Ocean Viking asks Italy, Malta for a safe harbour

Wednesday, 14 August 2019, 09:48 Last update: about 5 months ago

Two charity groups operating the Ocean Viking rescue ship have formally asked Italy and Malta to allow the 356 migrants aboard to disembark in their ports.

After four consecutive days of search and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean, Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee asked Maltese and Italian authorities for "support in finding a place of safety." The two groups say the migrants show "signs of physical and psychological violence experienced during their journey through Libya."

The NGOs reiterated they won't return survivors to Libya because that country's ports are not safe.

The migrants were plucked from the Mediterranean days ago, but both Italy and Malta have denied access to their ports.

An additional 151 migrants are on another charity ship also looking for a place to dock.

A Spanish aid group said earlier it has asked Italy and Malta to evacuate twin babies and their parents from a rescue ship that has 151 migrants on board and nowhere to disembark them.

Aid group Open Arms said Tuesday that one of the 9-month-old babies has breathing problems.

Italy and Malta have refused to receive the humanitarian ship, which has been seeking authorization to dock for well over a week.

Also Tuesday, a juvenile court in Sicily ruled that Italian authorities violated national law and international conventions by blocking 28 unaccompanied minors from entering Italy.

Open Arms made the court ruling available and says the children are suffering "physical and mental distress" after enduring "psychological traumas" in Libyan detention camps.

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