The UN’s refugee agency said time was “running out” for 49 people rescued by NGO boats but denied a safe port in Europe, some of whom have been stranded at sea for over a week.
The NGOs – German Sea-Eye and Dutch Sea-Watch – called for “an immediate solution for those being held hostage by European States, who are denying them a safe port”.
“With the weather conditions forecast to worsen this evening, a solution must be found by the end of 2018 in order to prevent placing people’s health at further risk,” they said in a joint statement.
The German-flagged Professor Albrecht Penck ship has 17 people from West Africa on board who were rescued from an unseaworthy boat on Saturday off the coast of Libya, including one woman and two children.
Sea-Eye said in a statement on Monday that “any delay poses a risk”.
At the same time, the Dutch-flagged Sea-Watch has 32 people rescued on December 22 including three young children, three unaccompanied adolescents and four women from Nigeria, Libya and Ivory Coast.
On Saturday a government spokesperson said Germany would only accept some of the migrants if other European countries also agreed to do so.
Malta rescues 180 refugees as weather deteriorates
UN calls on countries to take in remaining group of 49 refugees stuck in limbo on boats in Mediterranean Sea.
Malta has pulled 180 refugees to safety from two boats in distress, while 49 more are stuck in limbo at sea as the weather worsens in the Mediterranean.
An army patrol boat picked up 28 refugees from a dinghy on Monday some 130km southwest of Malta before plucking another 152 people from a wooden boat to the south.
The rescues followed the recovery by Malta on Sunday of 69 refugees on a wooden boat which had run into trouble.