The humanitarian rescue ship Alan Kurdi, operated by the Sea-Eye organization, has announced that it will sail to France after being denied entry into ports in Italy and Malta. The ship rescued 133 migrants over the weekend.
As of the weekend, Alan Kurdi has been waiting around 12 nautical miles off the coast of Sicily for a safe port in which to disembark migrants on board. However, he was refused entry into Sicilian and Maltese ports.
On Tuesday, the Italian coast guard facilitated the evacuation of two women, a man and five children, including a five-month-old baby. However, the remaining passengers appeared to have to wait a long time before they could disembark.
“The Maltese search and rescue coordinators refused to allow us to enter the port immediately,” the Sea-Eye organization said in a press release. “The Italian search and rescue coordinators referred us to the search and rescue authorities in Bremen [Germany], and they forwarded our request to the German Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ”
Jan Ribbeck, doctor and head of rescue operations for Sea-Eye said the organization did not want to fall into the same problems that the Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms was facing, where migrants waited so long on board that several of them ship off Palermo.
“We cannot accept another blockade”
Sea-Eye Germany spokesperson Gordon Isler said: “We really don’t want to drift into such an out of control situation. We cannot accept another blockade. ”
On Tuesday evening, Ribbeck wrote to the Italian Search and Rescue Coordination Center in Rome via email. He said Libyan search and rescue coordinators had given no response to rescue notifications by email, radio or phone. He said the closest rescue authorities, Italy and Malta, had also refused to accept responsibility for guiding the ship to a safe port.
Inaction invites a new route
“Due to the inaction of the Italian and German authorities, the captain was forced to take a new course towards the so-called ‘port of call’ [Marseille where the ship’s crew was due to be changed over] in order to protect those on board and ensure the fastest possible evacuation. ”
According to Isler, the long journey back to Marseille is pretty much doable as along the way they will pass the coasts of Sardinia, Corsica and southern France and ask for help at each port. However, Isler added: “We do not yet know how the French government will react to our request for help. However, we believe in the support of the French people and that we will not be left behind off the coast of Marseille. ”
Since its founding in 2015, the Sea-Eye organization has carried out more than 70 missions and claims to have helped save more than 15,000 people. He hopes to launch a new, larger vessel soon. Last Thursday, she announced the purchase of a second rescue vessel that she intends to call Ghalib Kurdi, the older brother of Alan Kurdi, who also died at sea alongside their mother Rehanna.