The Alan Kurdi is operated by Sea-Eye, the crew on board say after a lack of response from EU countries they have no choice but to set sail for France in order to avoid a standoff in Italy | Photo: Joris Grahl / Sea-Eye
The Alan Kurdi is operated by Sea-Eye, the crew on board say after a lack of response from EU countries they have no choice but to set sail for France in order to avoid a standoff in Italy | Photo: Joris Grahl / Sea-Eye

The humanitarian rescue ship Alan Kurdi, operated by the organization Sea-Eye, has announced that it is setting sail for France after it was refused entry to ports in Italy and Malta. The ship rescued 133 migrants over the weekend.

On September 23, the rescue organization Sea-Eye announced that its ship the Alan Kurdi, which rescued 133 migrants over the weekend, would be setting sail for France.

Since the weekend, Alan Kurdi has been waiting about 12 nautical miles off Sicily for a safe harbor in which to disembark the migrants on board. However, it was refused entry to Sicilian and Maltese ports.

On Tuesday, the Italian coast guard did facilitate the evacuation of two women, one man and five children, including a five-month-old baby. However the remaining passengers looked like they might be in for another long wait before a disembarkation was allowed.

No response

"The Maltese Search and Rescue Coordinators refused to allow us into harbor immediately," stated the Sea-Eye organization in a press release. "The Italian Search and Rescue Coordinators referred us to the Search and Rescue authorities in Bremen [Germany], and they forwarded our request to the German transport ministry and the foreign office."

Jan Ribbeck, a doctor and leader of rescue operations for Sea-Eye said the organization didn’t want to fall into the same problems that faced the Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms where the migrants waited so long on board that several of them sprang from the ship off the coast from Palermo.

In the space of 12 hours the crew of the Alan Kurdi rescued 133 people off the coast of Libya | Photo: Joris Grahl / Sea-Eye
In the space of 12 hours the crew of the Alan Kurdi rescued 133 people off the coast of Libya | Photo: Joris Grahl / Sea-Eye

'We cannot accept another blockade'

Sea-Eye's spokesperson in Germany, Gordon Isler, said: "We really don’t want to drift into such an uncontrollable situation. We cannot accept another blockade."

On Tuesday evening Ribbeck wrote to the Italian search and rescue coordination center in Rome via email. He clarified that the Libyan Search and Rescue coordinators had given no answer to notifications of the rescues either by email, radio or telephone. He said the next nearest rescue authorities, Italy and Malta had also refused to accept responsibility for guiding the ship to a safe harbor.

Inaction prompts new route

"Because of the inaction of both the Italian and the German authorities, the captain has been forced to set a new course towards the so-called 'port of call' [Marseille where the ship’s crew was due to be changed over] in order to safeguard the people on board and ensure the quickest possible evacuation."

According to Isler, the long journey back to Marseille is just about do-able because along the way they will pass the coasts of Sardinia, Corsica and the South of France and will ask for help in each port. However, Isler added: "We don’t yet know how the French government will react to our request for help. We do however believe in the support of the French people and that we won’t be left stranded off the coast of Marseille."

Since their foundation in 2015, the organization Sea-Eye has sailed over 70 missions and says that it has helped rescue more than 15,000 people. It hopes to launch a new larger ship shortly. Last Thursday it announced the purchase of a second rescue ship which it intends to call Ghalib Kurdi, the older brother of Alan Kurdi, who also died at sea alongside their mother Rehanna.

 

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