Reuters: Human rights groups called on European governments on Sunday to tell a charity ship where it can dock and let more than 140 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean disembark in safety.
The Aquarius, run by Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee and Doctors without Borders (MSF), rescued 141 people in two separate operations off the Libyan coast last week.
The boat had just started heading north on Sunday toward Europe when Libyan coastguards called it back to pick up 10 migrants spotted aboard a small fiberglass boat.
As that rescue was underway, SOS Mediterranee and MSF asked for guidance on where to take those they had saved.
“What is of utmost importance is that the survivors are brought to a place of safety without delay, where their basic needs can be met and where they can be protected from abuse,” said Nick Romaniuk, search and rescue coordinator for SOS Mediterranee.
The Aquarius has operated in the central Mediterranean since early 2016 and says it has helped more than 29,000 people in distress, many of them African migrants, who, until this summer, were brought swiftly to Italy without any incident.
However, when a populist government took office in Rome in June, it immediately shut its ports to all NGO boats, accusing them of encouraging illegal immigration and helping human smugglers — charges the charities deny.