Be informed. Be challenged. Be inspired.

Nearly 1,000 migrants stranded in Med as NGOs urge Italy, Malta to help

Rome, Italy

Three charity boats carrying almost 1,000 rescued migrants on Wednesday urged Italian or Maltese authorities to welcome them into one of their ports, saying those onboard needed urgent assistance.

The vessels operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), SOS Mediterranee and SOS Humanity have been at sea for more than a week. They said all their requests to dock have so far proved unsuccessful.

“572 men, women and children still waiting for a safe port,” MSF wrote on Twitter, referring to its Geo Barents vessel.

Mediterranean Sea Open Arms Uno migrant rescue

Migrants are on deck before arriving at the port of Messina on board of Open Arms Uno rescue boat off the coast of Sicily, Italy, on 27th August. PICTURE: Reuters/Juan Medina/File photo

In emailed comments to Reuters, SOS Humanity said it has 179 people onboard its Humanity 1 vessel, located off the eastern coast of Sicily. The German charity said it has been sending requests to dock to state authorities for the past 11 days.

The vessel run by SOS Mediterranee is currently carrying 234 people.

In an interview with the Corriere della Sera daily, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi did not reply to a question on whether the migrant boats would be allowed to dock, but said Rome cannot take charge of migrants rescued at sea by “foreign boats”.

There was no immediate response from Maltese authorities to a request for comment.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s new rightist government is threatening to ban charity ships from its waters, as Rome looks once again to embrace a tough stance against boat migrants.

In comments to be included in a book, confirmed by her staff, Meloni accused sea rescue charities of breaching international law by acting as a “shuttle” between Africa and Europe.

She insisted that the flag nations of the charity ships in question – Germany and Norway – should take care of the migrants currently stranded at sea, rather than Italy or Malta. 

“If an NGO ship flies, let’s say, the flag of Germany, there are two possibilities: either Germany recognises it and takes care of it, or that ship becomes a pirate ship,” Meloni told book author Bruno Vespa.

We rely on our readers to fund Sight's work - become a financial supporter today!

For more information, head to our Subscriber's page.

Meanwhile, Greek rescuers on Wednesday recovered 20 bodies of migrants who drowned after their small boat capsized while trying to cross from Turkey to Greece, the coast guard said, and dozens more were feared dead.

The boat sank on Tuesday in rough seas and gale force winds and a search-and-rescue operation was still under way off the Greek island of Evia on Wednesday, the coast guard said.

Greece Evia migrants

A group of migrants huddle, wrapped in emergency blankets, after being rescued from the water off the island of Evia, Greece, on 1st November. PICTURE: Hellenic Coast Guard/Handout via REUTERS/File photo.

Twelve people have been rescued but survivors told authorities said as many as 68 people had been on board.

The number of asylum seekers trying to reach Europe from Turkey, mainly from war-torn or poverty-stricken countries in the Middle East and Africa, has fallen since Europe’s 2015 migration crisis.

But Greek authorities say they have seen an increase in attempted entries through its land and sea borders with Turkey. 

The sinking off Evia was the second involving a migrant boat this week. On Monday, four migrants were rescued near the eastern Aegean island of Samos, close to Turkey, after their inflatable dinghy capsized.



sight plus logo

Sight+ is a new benefits program we’ve launched to reward people who have supported us with annual donations of $26 or more. To find out more about Sight+ and how you can support the work of Sight, head to our Sight+ page.



We’re interested to find out more about you, our readers, as we improve and expand our coverage and so we’re asking all of our readers to take this survey (it’ll only take a couple of minutes).

To take part in the survey, simply follow this link…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.