Updated: 356 asylum seekers on board Ocean Viking to be brought to Malta

Twitter/MSF

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

356 asylum seekers on board the Ocean Viking will be transferred to an AFM patrol boat to be brought to Malta, before they are relocated to other EU member states. This was announced by SOS Mediterranee and MSF during a joint press conference on Friday afternoon, and simultaneously announced by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in a tweet.

The asylum seekers which have been stranded for some 14 days will be transferred to the Armed Forces of Malta vessels outside Maltese territorial waters and brought to shore.

The asylum seekers will be relocated to France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania.

The Prime Minister reiterated that “none will remain in Malta”.

In a statement released by the government, it was explained that the agreement was reached following discussions with the European Commission and a number of member states.

The government stressed that none of those on board were intercepted within the Maltese area of competence or carried out under the direction of the Maltese authorities.

European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos who is responsible for Migration commended the cooperation and support of the Maltese authorities, adding that once more they showed concrete solidarity.

“This proves once again the strong commitment of Malta to a European approach on migration in the spirit of solidarity and joint responsibility,” Avramopoulos said.

The Commission also strongly welcomed the cooperation of the member states which agreed to relocate the Ocean Viking urging that the commitments must be honoured swiftly.

“This positive outcome is the result of the intense coordination work of the Commission and constructive contacts with all Member States involved who have once again come forth and shown solidarity and willingness to contribute to a solution,” the Commissioner said.

“I am afraid. I know what happened to us” – rescuee on board Ocean Viking

18-year-old Moussa is one of the rescuees on board the Ocean Viking. He retold his story to SOS Mediterranee that operates the Ocean Viking along with Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The Ocean Viking has rescued 356 asylum seekers whose boat was in distress in different rescue operations. The charity ship remains stranded after 14 days without a safe harbor where to dock and disembark those on board.

In a tweet shared by SOS Mediterranee, MSF logistics reportedly said that only five days of standard food rations are left on board.

He was 16 when he got to Libya from Sudan. This was the second time Moussa escaped Libya, on his first attempt, he along with other survivors which were intercepted by the Nivin, a cargo ship, some 115 miles east of Tripoli.

Read: Libyan coast guards force stranded migrants off container ship

Recording his story, he told SOS Mediterranee that the cargo ship had told them they would be brought to Sicily however they were brought to Misurata.

Libyan authorities had forcibly disembarked at least 79 migrants who had refused to leave a cargo ship that rescued them before docking in a port west of Tripoli in November 2018.

Moussa spoke of torture during his time in Libya. Upon being returned to Libya in 2018, he along with the rest was put in detention, where food was not enough, saltwater was provided and detainees were beaten daily. He only managed to escape detention after seven months.

He voiced his fears of being returned to Libya, telling SOS Mediterranee that he is afraid and that he knows what happened to them following the Nivin ordeal.

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