Joint press release of Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye
Two rescue vessels run by German NGOs are stranded at sea, with a total of 49 rescued people on board. Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye demand a quick solution for the people currently being held hostage by European states that suspended their duty to provide a port of safety. With bad weather approaching tonight, a solution within 2018 is paramount to avoiding further health risks for those rescued.
The Sea-Watch 3 has rescued 32 people in distress at sea on 22 December, and exactly one week later on 29 December, Sea-Eye’s ‘Professor Albrecht Penck’ rescued 17 people on the Central Mediterranean. Both vessels are yet to be assigned a port of safety.
Being kept at sea is not only unnecessarily prolonging the journey of the rescued people on board, most importantly it increases risks to their health and safety on a daily basis. Mindful of imminent bad weather and sea conditions, both rescue vessels have sailed north in a timely manner and are now on standby to disembark all guests in a safe European port. The only thing that remains is political will and decisive action by any European authority.
“For good reasons, the law of the sea clearly says that the time people rescued out of maritime distress have to spend at sea, has to be kept to a minimum,” says Jan Ribbeck, Head of Mission on the Sea-Eye vessel Professor Albrecht Penck. “It is utterly unscrupulous that no single European state is taking this responsibility. In Germany alone, more than 30 cities have accepted to take some of the people. The fact that we are still at sea is a confession of failure for each and every EU member state, and before all the german interior minister” says Philipp Hahn, Head of Mission on the Sea-Watch 3.
In accordance with maritime law, Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye are now expecting the urgent provision of a port of safety by the relevant European authorities, to enable a timely and safe completion of both rescue operations, before the end of 2018.
Disembarkation in Malta would be the most logical option, upon an agreement to redistribute people within a European solution . Malta has already allowed landings of people rescued at sea before, if other European states agreed on an immediate relocation of the people to other countries. Due to the size of the island and the fact that Malta proportionally gives shelter to more refugees than any other European country, this is understandable, nevertheless redistribution problems have to be solved on land and after a safe disembarkation.
Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye are endeavouring to promote the immediate transfer of the people in Germany to achieve the objective of shared responsibility upon disembarkation in a close safe port. Three federal city-states including Berlin, Hamburg and Bremen, and several other cities have already agreed to accommodate the people rescued, while the Ministry of Interior has stated its availability to seek a solution within a EU approach.
Footage of the ongoing mission you will find here: