Updated 2.50pm with Commissioner's reaction
Two NGO boats left Malta on Friday to support the a rescue vessel which has been left stranded off the island with 49 migrants on board.
For 14 days, Sea-Watch 3 has been awaiting the assignment of a port of safety for 49 people rescued in the Central Mediterranean on December 22.
Malta is one of a number of countries that has refused to offer a safe port to the vessel. Conditions on board have continued to deteriorate, with food in low supply and many on board suffering seasickness.
The aims of the mission carried out by Sea-Watch and Mediterranea, both part of the United4Med Alliance, are threefold - to bring logistical and material support to the ship, allow crew changes and replenish supplies.
Several NGOs, as well as the Maltese bishops, have been making pleas for help on behalf of the migrants.
In a tweet on Friday, Dunja Mijatovic, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights said:
States must not delay offering a safe port to children, women and men on board #SeaWatch3 and #SeaEye any longer. Their health/safety should not be put at further risk by leaving them stranded at sea. Humanity and compassion must prevail. @seawatchcrew @seaeyeorg @coe @PACE_News— Commissioner for Human Rights (@CommissionerHR) January 4, 2019
Another aim is to let German parliamentarians and church representatives embark the ship to witness the circumstances of the rescued people, for whom European states were accountable, and which would enable them to report on the fragile situation on board to the German government.
This government, Sea Watch said, had not yet responded to the requests of dozens of German cities which stated their willingness to welcome the rescued people.
Another objective was to take German and Italian journalists on board to enable them to speak of the consequences of the violation of the rule of law in the Mediterranean Sea and push European states to assign a port of safety to the 49 migrants, as the law of the sea mandated.
The organisations said on Friday morning this initiative demonstrated that the ships that saved lives at sea were not alone, and that a significant part of European civil society was not resigned to the inhumanity and violence of indifference.
It showed that there was a bridge between sea and land, made up of unstoppable alliances and solidarity across borders.
“The alliance is doing, once again, what European authorities and governments are still unwilling to do: helping those at sea who make every effort, and risk their lives doing so, to alleviate the suffering of people, including very young children, who are traumatised by the hell of Libyan prisons and arbitrary violence and now face the very real risk of death at sea.
“What we are doing is a direct response to European policies that actively close legal passage for those who are displaced and seek refuge. It is a direct response to a European society that tolerates the violation of fundamental human rights, which is endangering the societal values Europe is built upon.”
The alliance called on mayors and associations in Europe, and every person who believed in a future of justice and humanity, to support these demands “and continue to sail with us”.
In a statement later, Alternattiva Demokratika and European Greens lead candidate MEP Ska Keller called on EU states to act quickly and offer a solution to the rescued migrants. They also called for a fair and common European solution and agreement to a permanent distribution mechanism in the long-term.
Ms Keller, who on Friday joined the Sea-Watch crew, said: "All 49 refugees onboard the rescue ships Sea–Watch 3 and Professor Albrecht Penck must be allowed entry to a safe port. It is necessary that EU states are willing and ready to welcome them. On the EU level we need regulations that will stop this from happening in the future. It is unacceptable that those fleeing harm and seeking asylum are left at sea."
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