Human rights NGO Aditus has called on government to disembark 49 refugees and migrants stranded at sea for days.
“Some of the refugees and migrants, including women and children, have now been asking for a safe haven for 12 days. The situation is unacceptable, dangerous and inhumane. The conditions onboard are deteriorating rapidly. We call upon the Government of Malta to prioritise life, to open its port and to let them in,” Aditus said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The call follows similar appeals by the UNHCR and the Maltese bishops to provide a port of safety for migrants stranded on board two NGO rescue vessels.
The two NGO rescue vessels, the Sea-Watch 3 and the Professor Albrecht Penck on which the 39 people are stranded were today allowed to enter Maltese territorial waters after authorities accepted a request by the two vessels.
But to date, Malta and other EU countries have refused the vessels’ requests to enter port and disembark the asylum-seekers. The Sea-Watch 3 is currently carrying 32 migrants, who where rescued on 22 December and an additional 17 migrants were rescued by the Prof Albrecht Penck on 29 December.
“The lack of solidarity among Member States is not only disappointing, but also demonstrates a disturbing disdain for their legal, ethical and moral responsibilities towards each other, and more importantly, towards the most vulnerable,” the human rights organisation said.
Recognising and commending the work and commitment of Malta’s Armed Forces who have been engaged in a number of rescue operations in the Mediterranean over the Christmas period, Aditus said “far from international headlines, the government of Malta has opened its port and provided haven to those in desperate need of safety and security.”
In the past few days, the Maltese Armed Forces were involved in three separate rescue operations to save 249 migrants in Malta’s sears and rescue zone.
However Aditus warned that the stranded migrants should not be sent back to Libya, where the violence and ongoing human rights violations are well documented.
“Libya is not, and must not be a port of return. We call upon the member states to support the work of the humanitarian search and rescue vessels, to share responsibility for all asylum seekers entering the EU, regardless of port of entry, and to enable access to safety and protection throughout the EU.”