1. We welcome the announcement by France and Malta of a coordinated European response: The 58 survivors of 2 rescues events, who are at the moment on board the Aquarius, will be transshipped on a Maltese asset, in international waters. According to the information released officially by the Maltese government, the survivors will be disembarked in Malta and all of them will be immediately redistributed in another four European Union member states.We have no information where these people will be redistributed.
2. The 58 survivors will therefore be disembarked, and touch land, without delay, in a safe place, where they will be able to exert their right to claim for protection. Among the 58 survivors are many Libyan families, escaping from the violence and clashes in Libya, an unaccompanied minor from Pakistan, kids, a pregnant woman. There are no medical emergency, but the SAR conventions are clear : people rescued at sea should be disembarked in the closest place of safety with minimum delay. This transshipment allows this, and it can be considered as the “best solution” in this dramatic context.
3. However, it is unfortunately still an “ad hoc response”, though it shows that a coordinated and European solution is possible. We repeat our call for a sustainable and predictable, long term European mechanism for the Rescue at sea and disembarkation in a place of safety.
4. After the transshipment of survivors to a Maltese asset, the Aquarius will be able to continue its journey without delay towards Marseille. We have no updates about the flag issue since the last notification from the PMA to the ship owner. We have not made any specific request to any specific States, but we welcome any concrete and serious solution that will allow the Aquarius to pursue its life saving mission in the Mediterranean.
5. The Aquarius will pursue its mission as long as there will be people risking their lives at sea and there will be no adequate rescue means deployed to rescue them.