ROME - No solution appears to be in sight for 64 migrants rescued off the coast of Libya by a German humanitarian group's vessel. Weather is a concern, and the German group, Sea Eye, is struggling to find a safe port where the migrants can disembark.
Sea Eye said it responded to the migrants' distress call Wednesday — after Libyan authorities failed to do so — and rescued 64 people from an overcrowded dinghy. Everyone on board is safe, Sea Eye said, but conditions for the migrants are far from optimal, as many are sleeping on deck and a storm is expected. It is unclear how soon they will be able to disembark.
Sea Eye spokeswoman Carlotta Weibl said a request for a safe port was made to four countries.
"Tunisia and Libya did not respond at all, and Italy and Malta said they are not responsible and we are not allowed to enter their territorial waters," Weibl said.
Italy's interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said the vessel, Alan Kurdi, is flying a German flag, is run by a German nongovernmental organization and has a German captain, and that therefore it should head to Germany.
The migrants on board, which include 10 women, five children and a newborn baby, were brought to safety off the coast of Zuwarah, west of the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Sea Eye was in the area searching for another dinghy with about 50 people on board, which issued a distress call and then disappeared Monday.
Weibl said a request has also been made to be allowed to enter a port just for shelter.
"The ship is currently close to [the island of] Lampedusa and it will also stay close to Lampedusa, because it is the closest safe port and we have no permission to enter anywhere else. So it makes no sense to sail around wildly," she said. "We will stay there until there's a solution found and we can enter somewhere."
Delays in disembarking migrants rescued at sea are becoming more common in the Mediterranean since Italy adopted a closed-ports policy, refusing to allow humanitarian vessels to enter its territorial waters and ports.