The European Union was under growing pressure on Friday to find a solution for the 121 migrants who have been stranded aboard Spanish rescue boat Open Arms for eight days, without being able to find a safe port to disembark.
The boat is currently near the Italian island of Lampedusa and has been denied entry by both Italy and Malta, even as Open Arms warned it would soon run out of food.
“What a shame Europe, not to be able to find a port for these people in 8 days, “Open Arms tweeted on Friday.
Open Arms said Thursday that it sent letters to the governments of Spain, France and Germany asking for them to request the European Commission to find a solution to their predicament.
On Thursday, European Parliament President David Sassoli addressed a letter to the European Commission urging the bloc’s executive to coordinate ‘prompt humanitarian intervention’ and arrange ‘for the fair distribution of the migrants’.
Reacting to the letter, an EU Commission spokesperson said: “The Commission has no competence when it comes to coordination of search and rescue operations or indication of places for disembarkation. Despite this, at each occasion, the Commission has done its utmost within our remit to help find a solution and we will continue to do so.”
“When it comes to the Open Arms vessel, the Commission has not initiated coordination as there has been no request by a Member State,” they added.
“We have however – and independently from the letter of the President of the European Parliament – reached out to Member States asking them to show solidarity and to contribute to finding a solution for the persons on board.”
The EU Commission added that a reply to the letter would follow “in the coming days”.
The founder of Opens Arms, a Spanish NGO, Oscar Camps called on EU member states to take in the 121 people on his ship.
Among those on the vessel are two babies and a further 30 minors.
Camps said he was concerned for their welfare, adding they need “medical and psychiatric assistance.”
“We will continue until the European Union changes its migration policy,” he said of the NGO’s goal.
This mission’s leader is Anabel Montes who is on the ship and unsure about what will come next for those on board.
“Little by little we are running out of food and drink for the rescued people and for us as a crew and also we are worried about the psychological state of the people we have rescued as it is worsening day by day because of the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen to them.
“Therefore, we urgently need a boarding port as quickly as possible for the safety of everyone on board.”
The ongoing migrant crisis in Europe has seen several rescue ships full of migrants arrive on the continent’s shores.
There have been ship-by-ship solutions for migrants rescued off the coast of Libya, but only if other EU countries agree to take them in.