[Statement] Malta: SOS MEDITERRANEE relieved about assignment of place of safety

The Aquarius chartered by SOS MEDITERRANEE and operated in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has received this Wednesday morning formal permission from the Maltese authorities to enter the port of Valletta.

SOS MEDITERRANEE is relieved that a place of safety has been found for the 141 survivors rescued on the Mediterranean on Friday, in two distinct search and rescue events coordinated by the Libyan JRCC, and welcome the news that France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Spain have agreed to
share responsibility in a coordinated European response.

Since the rescues on Friday, our priority has been to ensure the wellbeing of those rescued at sea, and in line with international and maritime law disembark them in a place of safety without delay so that the Aquarius can continue providing urgently needed humanitarian assistance for those still in distress in the Central Mediterranean. As Malta is one of the closest places of safety, docking there saves people rescued from being stranded on the rescue ship for even longer length of time.

Long-term sustainable solutions that address the humanitarian crisis on the Central Mediterranean are still desperately needed. This is the responsibility of the EU as a whole, and we look forward to seeing more concrete examples of European leadership and solidarity on this issue in the future.

However, we remain gravely concerned about the current situation on Central Mediterranean and the future of humanitarian action at sea.