AN NGO refugee rescue ship carrying 125 people is bound for France after several Mediterranean nations ignored its calls for help for five days.
The Alan Kurdi, operated by German charity Sea Eye, saved the lives of 133 people when it picked them up from three separate boats in the central Mediterranean at the weekend.
Since then, the authorities in Malta, Italy, Libya, France and Germany — under whose flag the ship sails — have failed to provide the Alan Kurdi with a port to disembark the refugees.
Most of the ship’s communications with those countries’ authorities have gone unanswered, Sea Eye says.
The Italian coastguard did evacuate eight people from the ship on medical grounds on Tuesday morning while it was near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Following that, the crew plotted a course towards Sicily in the hope that Italy would finally allow the ship to dock.
Sea Eye announced this morning that the Alan Kurdi was changing course and heading to Marseille, where the ship is based and where it is scheduled to change crew and prepare for its next mission.
Gorden Isler, the charity’s chairman, said that the Alan Kurdi had been forced to sail hundreds of nautical miles to Marseille by the inaction of the authorities and the threat that the Italians could detain the ship in port for months.
“This is the kind of uncontrollable situation we don’t want to be brought into. We will not accept another blockade,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Alan Kurdi and fellow NGO rescue ship Aita Mari were held in Sicily for over a month, supposedly for violating safety regulations.
The Ocean Viking, Sea Watch 3 and Sea Watch 4 rescue ship are currently held there for similar alleged breaches.
“As we will pass many ports off Sardinia, off Corsica and off the south of France, we will be able to ask for support everywhere,” Mr Isler added.
“We do not know how the French government will react to our request for assistance. But we believe in the support of the French people and that they won’t let the Alan Kurdi be stranded off Marseille.”