On Saturday, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called for the immediate disembarkation of more than 400 rescued migrants and refugees currently on board three vessels in the central Mediterranean Sea.
In a joint statement, the two organisations said that a group of some 27 migrants and refugees who departed from Libya, including a pregnant woman and children, have been on board the commercial vessel Maersk Etienne for an unacceptable three-week period since their rescue on 5 August.
“A solution must be found, and the vessel provided with a safe port for disembarkation,” the statement noted.
It confirmed that a commercial tanker cannot be considered a suitable place to keep people in need of humanitarian assistance or those who may need international protection. Appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures can be implemented once they reach dry land.
“More than 200 other rescued refugees and migrants are in urgent need of transfer and disembarkation from the NGO search and rescue vessel Louise Michel, which is currently far beyond its safe carrying capacity, after having intervened in a rescue early this morning. Any delays could jeopardize the safety of all people onboard, including its crew members,” the statement read.
A further 200 rescued people on the Sea Watch 4 NGO vessel should also be promptly provided with a safe port.