EU Unable to Find Solution for African Migrants Stranded at Sea

Telesur English

migrants at sea
Psychologists provide assistance to migrants at the Open Arms, which remains stranded in the Mediterranean, August 13, 2019. (Photo: Twitter/ @openarms_it)

The European Commission has no authority to dictate where the African migrants should disembark

The European Commission (EC) acknowledged Tuesday that it cannot do more for immigrants aboard the Open Arms vessel as long as the European Union (EU) countries do not propose a solution for the relocation of these people.

“Finding a solution depends on the Member States’ willingness to participate in solidarity efforts. We have no authority to indicate the landing sites or coordinate search and rescue operations,” Vanessa Mock, the EC Taxation and Customs spokesperson, said.

“From the side of the European Commission, there is nothing else we can do beyond what we have already done.”

So far no European country has asked the EC to coordinate work for the reception of the African migrants who are stranded in international waters. 

Brussels has no authority to dictate where the 151 stranded asylum seekers should disembark. They have been waiting more than 12 days for any country to authorize the Open Arms to dock at a safe harbor.

Currently, however, the humanitarian situation at the Mediterranean sea is even more critical. The Ocean Viking, a humanitarian vessel chartered by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Meditérranée, has 356 people on board as it rescued on Monday 105 additional migrants in international waters off Libya.

The EU spokeswoman insisted that the Commission, which continues to follow the situation in the Mediterranean, has reiterated its call to the EU countries to “show solidarity and contribute to a quick solution.”

Nevertheless, no country has offered to host the 507 African immigrants rescued by European humanitarian ships. Only Malta agreed to receive 39 people rescued by the Open Arms.

Meanwhile, the far-right Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini announced that he is “working” to prevent the landing of the stranded migrants in his country.

“I am working at the Ministry this morning to prevent more than 500 migrants -​​​from two NGO boats, one French and one Spanish- from disembarking,” Salvini wrote on Facebook. “I will let you know how this ends. I will not give up.”

The Minister also insisted that the African migrants have had enough time to disembark either in Libya, a country which is going through a civil war or in Spain, a country which does not authorize their landing either.

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