Four hundred migrants wait to disembark as distress calls go unanswered

The rescue ship Humanity 1

 PALERMO – More than 400 migrants are stuck aboard the rescue ships Humanity 1 and Ocean Viking in the Mediterranean Sea while the vessels wait for access to a safe port, charities reported.

 Humanity 1, a 60 metre-long German vessel built in 1976, is in waters off Sicily waiting to disembark 180 people, who were saved in the course of three separate rescue missions. Yet in the meantime the crew have received a distress call from a boat off the coast of Libya with 64 people onboard, who say that they are sinking and have received no response from the Libyan coastguard.

 Ocean Viking, a former cargo ship, is currently holding 234 migrants, well over its 200-person capacity. The most recent survivors were found on a six-metre boat near Malta. “They had clear signs of dehydration, fatigue and serious burns” explained SOS Méditerranée, the non-profit association managing the Norwegian ship together with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Currently in waters west of Malta, the humanitarian ship has 41 unaccompanied minors onboard and the youngest survivor is just three years-old.

 In 2021 Italy banned humanitarian ships from disembarking migrants in Italian ports, with a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison for the responsible captains.