Meanwhile, Greece fails to act on ECHR order to rescue 34 people trapped on river island
MALTA has once again refused to allow the crew of an NGO refugee rescue ship to disembark people rescued from the central Mediterranean.
The Sea-Eye 4 rescue ship is currently carrying 106 people saved in four operations since Wednesday. Three of the ship’s rescue operations were carried out within 24 hours, bringing on 74 people.
Sea-Eye chairman Gorden Isler said this morning that Malta had not responded to the ship’s calls request for a place of safety. The island nation has refused to communicate with activist rescuers since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The Pope is going to Malta on Saturday,” Mr Isler said on Twitter today.
“Perhaps an unequivocal appeal by the Pope to the Maltese government can make Malta, as the closest EU state, feel responsible for 106 people seeking protection.
“His visits to [the Italian island of] Lampedusa moved countless people worldwide. Perhaps the Pope will also be able to move the people of Malta.”
Meanwhile, the Greek government has still not rescued the 34 refugees stranded on an island in the Evros River, despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) having ordered it to do so, activists said today.
The activist-run distress hotline organisation Alarm Phone alerted the Greek authorities on Wednesday to six children, four women (one of whom is pregnant), and 24 men stuck on an islet in the river that separates Greece from Turkey.
The people had attempted to make the crossing earlier this week. They contacted Alarm Phone and the Border Violence Monitoring Network (BVMN) on Wednesday and told them that they were having to save the last of their food and water for the children.
Seeing as the people had still not been rescued on Thursday, BVMN reached out to the ECHR calling on it to invoke special measures to push for their safe passage to Greece.
The ECHR agreed, and later that evening called on the Greek government to “provide [the 34 refugees] with food, water clothing temporary shelter and adequate medical care until 14 April 2022.”
Failing to do so, the court said in a letter to BVMN and the Greek government, would be a breach of the ECHR convention.
“We are still in contact with the group,” Alarm Phone said last night.
“They just said they have been attacked by men in military clothes… The people themselves used the word ‘attacked’ in their communication with us.
“We understand they felt intimidated because they were approached by uniformed men without insignia who did not offer to rescue the whole group.”
Both groups warned this morning that the 34 people were still languishing on the Evros islet.
“Their situation gets more and more dangerous. We urge Greek authorities to evacuate them now,” Alarm Phone said.
Finally, 11 of the 145 people intercepted by the EU-supported Libya Coastguard yesterday have died, Alarm Phone said today.
Commenting on the deaths on social media today, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said four children and seven women were among the dead.
“These people died because they had no other choice but to cross the sea,” MSF’s post reads. “These deaths are the result of the EU policies that protect borders instead of people.
“Those who have survived are almost certainly subjected to ill-treatment in a detention centre, with the complicity of EU member states.
“We call on the EU and Frontex to reveal the circumstances of this event, and [the International Organisation for Migration] and [UNHCR Libya] to provide protection to the survivors.”
Update: April 3, 2022
Alarm Phone said today that it received confirmation that the 34 were rescued on Friday.
“We hope they will recover quickly and that they will be granted access to asylum procedures as soon as possible,” the organisation said.
Top image shows the Sea-Eye 4 crew carrying out a rescue operation in the Mediterranean [Pic: Sea-Eye]