“People are more important” -JRS

Chris Grodotzki / Sea-Watch.org

Dr Katrine Camilleri, the director of the Jesuit Refugee Services in Malta said that people are more important speaking about the asylum seekers who are current stranded at sea on board of NGO vessels after being rescued from drowning. Camilleri welcomed the joint statement by the bishops of Malta and Gozo and said it stressed the importance of showing concrete solidarity to those who need it most and safeguarding the right to life in all circumstances, which include also such situations in spite of the complex questions that such cases raise.

In a joint statement, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech and Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi spoke on the humanitarian situation of the rescued asylum seekers who are stranded at sea. The people were rescued on 22 December by the NGO vessel belonging to the German civil search and rescue NGO Sea-Watch.

The bishops made a strong appeal for solidarity through concrete actions and urged political leaders to make courageous choices that are always in favour of life.

Camilleri stressed that people are more important recognising Malta’s very real limitations, and the legal and political complexities surrounding the situation. Camilleri reminded of the joint statement by the NGOs urging authorities to grant Sea-Watch a safe harbour in Malta.

Integra Foundation director Maria Pisani stressed that the situation is untenable and that it cannot continue in this way. Pisani stressed that Malta and the other EU Member States need to respond to the crisis in the Mediterranean reminding that they have international obligations to fulfill.

On board the Sea-Watch vessel there are three minor children, while Sea-Eye’s vessel Professor Albrecht Penck embarked on its first rescue mission off the Libyan coasts on 21 December. On Saturday morning the vessel rescued 17 people from drowning in international waters and informed the responsible rescue centres. Both German civil search and rescue NGOs have appealed to the European authorities for a safe harbour.

A joint statement was issued by the NGOs calling on the authorities to intervene and grant Sea-Watch a port of safety where the asylum seekers could disembark.