Pope Makes ‘Pressing Appeal’ to EU Leaders to Save Migrants Stranded on Ships near Malta
Italy and Malta remain firm in keeping their ports closed for any more migrants.
The leaders of the European Union have been urged by Pope Francis to rescue dozens of migrants from the Middle East and Africa who have been stranded on two NGO-run vessels in the Mediterranean near Malta.
A total of 49 migrants, 32 on board of the Sea-Watch and 17 on the German NGO Sea-Eye ship, have been stranded there as Italy and Malta have refused to let them disembark on their territory.
“Forty nine migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by two NGO ships have been onboard for several days now, waiting to be able to disembark,” Pope Francis told thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter’s square in Rome on Sunday.
“I address a pressing appeal to European leaders that they show some concrete solidarity with respect to these people,” the Pope said, as cited by AFP and France24.
Earlier this week, the European Commission also urged the EU member states to accept the stranded migrants.
Some of the migrants, which include three children aged 1, 6, and 7, have been onboard the vessels for two weeks now.
“One of our guests jumped into the water, trying to reach Malta. Few minutes later, he was back on board – he knew that it wouldn’t work,” Sea Watch International said in a tweet including photos.
“They have been at sea for over 14 days, they have months of detention in Libya behind them. This is what desperation looks like,” it added.
The Netherlands and Germany have made clear their readiness to receive some of the migrants stranded near Malta.
However, they set the condition that other EU states do the same, continuing to insist on EU-wide solidarity for accepting migrants.
The governments of both Italy and Malta reiterated on Sunday their position that they refuse to admit any more migrants from the Middle East and Africa crossing Mediterranean.
“In Italy, there are no more arrivals. That is the line and it will not change,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the Il Messaggero newspaper.
“Italian ports are closed and will remain so,” Salvini added later in a tweet.
(Banner image: Sea Watch International)