Migrant ship Aquarius again searching for nation to accept refugees

Migrants sit aboard the rescue ship Aquarius in the Mediterranean. Monday the humanitarian groups SOS Mediterreanee and Doctors Without Borders called for a port in Europe in which the ship could dock. Photo courtesy SOS Mediterranee/EPA-EFE

Aug. 13 (UPI) — A ship carrying nearly 150 migrants who were rescued in Mediterranean Sea is searching for a place to dock, after being denied entry to ports in Malta and Italy, its owners said.

The vessel, Aquarius, rescued migrants from international waters on Friday with the help of Libya. The Libyan government, though, said it “cannot offer a safe place” to dock.

Malta refused the ship’s call for a port and Italy did not answer it, humanitarian groups SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders said.

In a Twitter message Monday, the groups called on any European government to offer a port of safety.

The migrants were rescued last week after their two wooden boats capsized. Of the 141 migrants aboard, 67 are unaccompanied minors, and more than a third are from Eritrea or Somalia, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.

The humanitarian groups said the Aquarius is adrift between Italy and Malta, and awaiting instructions. It is the only rescue ship in the area of the Mediterranean where migrants’ vessels are known to capsize.

The Aquarius faced a similar issue in June, when it rescued 630 migrants and delivered them to Spain — again after Malta and Italy declined to accept them.

Official sources in Spain say they are reluctant to accept more migrants because international law calls for the country nearest the rescue, in this case Italy or Malta, to be responsible for the refugees.


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