Operators of the Alan Kurdi rescue ship say they will return to Libya immediately to search for stranded migrants after 40 people they had rescued were allowed to disembark in Malta, German aid organization Sea-Eye said on Sunday.
‘We regard it as our humanitarian duty to return to this search-and-rescue zone,’ Sea-Eye spokesman Gorden Isler told dpa.
Since no other rescue ship is patrolling the Libyan coast, the Alan Kurdi would have to leave immediately, Isler said. ‘The people who are put on rubber boats at night cannot wait until the politicians come out of their summer holidays and finally find solutions.’
The 40 migrants, who had been stranded at sea for more than four days before being rescued, are now set to be redistributed around Europe.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted late Saturday that his country would allow the migrants on board the Alan Kurdi to transfer to an army vessel following a request from Germany.
No further details on the destination countries were immediately available but none would remain in Malta, according to Muscat.
Sea-Eye, the non-governmental organization that operates the Alan Kurdi, said in a tweet that ‘many’ would go to Germany.
The boat, which rescued the migrants from a sinking vessel off Libya on Wednesday, spent Saturday just outside Maltese waters, having been turned away by Italian authorities the previous day.
A video published by Sea-Eye on its Twitter account showed the migrants cheering and celebrating following Muscat's announcement.
‘They nearly all died,’ the NGO wrote. ‘Now they're celebrating life. May they find open arms and hearts in their new homes.’ Meanwhile another rescue vessel, Open Arms, operated by the Spanish NGO Proactiva, was still seeking a safe harbour after Italian authorities denied it entry.
The boat is carrying 124 migrants who were rescued from waters off the Libyan coast this week.
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