The NGO rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3, a German NGO under Dutch flag, remains stranded some 1.4 miles from the port of Syracuse as Italian authorities continue to refuse to allow disembarkation of the ship’s passengers.
In a statement, Sea Watch said that without a safe port for the “exhausted shipwrecked” migrants, the Sea-Watch 3 on 24th of January sought shelter to the east of the Sicilian coast.
The vessel has been allowed to enter Italian territorial waters due to bad weather, Italian coast guard sources said.
“… I sent a letter to the Dutch government in which the it is officially and formally tasked with dealing with this vessel, which flies the Dutch flag, and of the passengers on board,” Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said.
Earlier fellow Minister of Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio said that he thinks the Dutch ambassador to Italy should be summoned over the ship.
“The Netherlands has indicated a readiness to possibly take in a proportional number of migrants who are on board Sea-Watch 3, on condition that other European countries do the same,” said security and justice ministry spokesman Lennart Wegewijs. However, later Dutch changed their position, saying they don’t feel it is their responsibility.
It is the second time in a month Sea Watch has been stranded at sea with rescued migrants and no safe port. The last standoff ended after 19 days and an agreement among eight EU countries, including Italy, to take in the migrants.
“The situation on board is critical,” said the International organization for Migration (IOM), the UN refugee Agency, UNHCR, as well as the children’s Fund, Unicef, on January 27. In a joint statement by UN organizations demanded that the migrants sitting on the ship of the German aid organisation Sea Watch in front of Sicily, “shall immediately” go into Italy from the board. The international pressure on Italy is mounting, while no other EU country volunteers to accept the transported from Libyan costs migrants.