The European Commission has welcomed the public call made by Pope Francis describing it as very much in line with what the Commission has been doing over the past few days. Pope Francis appealed public to European leaders to show solidarity with the people stranded on the two NGO vessels.
During Monday’s press briefing, the European Commission Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas replied to questions posed by the media on the ongoing negotiations in attempt to find a solution to disembarkation of 49 people rescued by two German civil search and rescue NGO vessels.
On 22 December and 27 December, Sea Watch 3 belonging to Sea Watch and Professor Albrecht Plenck carried out rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean in which a total of 49 people were rescued. Both vessels are still awaiting a port of safety and currently are off the coast from Malta where they were authorised to take shelter during stormy weather. It is not yet clear where these asylum seekers will disembark, with medics on board Sea Watch warning that the situation is deteriorating with people refusing to eat despite efforts by the crew to keep spirits high.
The European Commission Chief Spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told the press that the negotiations have been intensive and that the Commission is aiming for a swift disembarkation of the people trapped on the vessels. Schinas reiterated the call by Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avrampoulos calling on all Member States to provide their support and contribute to this joint effort so that the asylum seekers may be swiftly and safely disembarked as soon as possible.
Schinas also informed that the Commission will be informing the Member States on the state of play through the Committee of Permanent Representatives. It remains however unclear when and where the 49 people on board the Sea Watch and Sea Eye will disembark. Schinas stressed that the Commission has been working intensively and that the deadlock exposed the need for more solidarity from Member States in order to achieve a predictable and sustainable solution for the disembarkation of asylum seekers in the Mediterranean.