Maltese armed forces on Tuesday evacuated for medical reasons one of 64 migrants aboard a German humanitarian rescue ship that has been at sea for six days as Europe haggles over where to provide safe port.
The woman was suffering from dizziness, but officials from the German humanitarian group Sea-Eye said that an accurate diagnosis wasn’t possible on board.
“We have to expect such situations to increase if these people are not allowed to move quickly to a safe place,” said Jan Ribbeck, operations manager aboard the group’s rescue vessel Alan Kurdi.
Sea-Eye said it has informed Malta, the nearest country with a port, that drinking water and food is running low for the rescued people, now including 11 women, a child and an infant.
The European Union, meanwhile, said it had triggered talks with member states to identify a port and countries to take in the migrants, as the nearest countries, Malta and Italy, have refused to allow port access to any NGO rescue ship.
Sea-Eye spokesman Dominik Reisinger said the “political question about the distribution of the rescued … overshadows the human rights” of those on board.
Many have told their rescuers of abuse and mistreatment suffered in Libya, Sea-Eye said in a statement, including sexual assault and blackmail.
The ship was built to sleep 20 people, not the 80 people now on board, including the crew, Ribbeck said. Many are sleeping on the deck, exposed to the elements and without a change of clothes when they get wet. At least one-third have suffered sea sickness.
Water is needed not only for drinking, but for cooking, personal hygiene and washing. Ribbeck said they have notified Malta that they need water and changes of clothing by Wednesday at the latest.
“Some of the people here have been wearing their clothes for weeks. These are unspeakable circumstances on board a European ship,” Ribbeck said.