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The unnecessary wait for safety is over for 588 refugees, but the authorities keep 312 others at sea as their health deteriorates

THE unnecessarily long wait for dry land is finally over for 588 refugees aboard two activist-run rescue ships in the central Mediterranean — but hundreds more on another vessel continue to wait for their rights to be respected.

The Italian authorities gave permission today for the rescuers aboard the Aita Mari to disembark 112 survivors — some of whom have been at sea for over a week — in Augusta on the Italian island of Sicily.

The permission came after a tense couple of days on the ship, as some of the rescued grew frustrated at being kept at sea for days.

The Basque charity that runs the Aita Mari, Humanitarian Maritime Rescue (SMH), warned on earlier this week that fights had broken out between the survivors, and that some had chosen to go on hunger strike.

Fortunately, the situation calmed down quickly.

Some of the 476 people who were saved by the Sea-Eye 4‘s crew last week finally reached Italian soil this morning.

“After more than a week, an end to their ordeal at sea is finally in sight,” Sea-Eye said this evening.

“However, so far only a few people have been able to go ashore.

“In the 23 countries of origin the rescued come from, there are sometimes long-standing armed conflicts and wars. But, safe escape routes are currently only available for refugees from Ukraine.

“We demand safe escape routes for all people seeking protection!”

Meanwhile, the now 312 people aboard the Sea-Watch 4 must continue their wait for safety, as the European authorities appear to have forgotten or are ignoring their legal duty to ensure the rescued reach a safe port immediately.

Since The Civil Fleet last reported on the ship, the Louise Michel and Nadir transferred over 22 and 29 people respectively to the much larger Sea-Watch 4.

“Last night, one person with life-threatening health problems was evacuated from the [ship],” Sea-Watch posted today.

“For the remaining 312 people on board, we urgently demand a port of safety.

“People rescued from distress at sea have the right to be brought immediately to a place of safety. It’s unacceptable that this right is repeatedly denied to them until their health deteriorates to such an extent that medical evacuation is necessary.”

Top image by Matt Hardy / Creative Commons

Published by The Civil Fleet

A news blog and podcast focused on the activist-led refugee rescue and support missions across Fortress Europe

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