Spain says it will not accept the Lifeline rescue boat left stranded in the Mediterranean after its rejection by Italy and Malta. This comes as German lawmakers describe the situation on the vessel as precarious.Spanish Economic Development Minister Jose Luis Abalos said on Monday that his country would not offer docking to a NGO boat carrying some 230 migrants rescued at sea, saying Spain could not “become the sea rescue organization for all of Europe.”
His remarks come after the boat, operated by German NGO Mission Lifeline, was turned away by both Italy and Malta, with German lawmakers who have visited the stranded vessel speaking of worsening conditions on board and a possible humanitarian emergency as weather conditions deteriorate.
Read more: Where do EU countries stand on migration?
Left in limbo
Italy closed its ports to Lifeline on Thursday, the second time it has rejected an NGO ship in recent weeks
Malta also disclaimed responsibility for the boat
Spain took in the first ship, the Aquarius, that was turned away by the two countries
Read more: By refusing entry to migrant rescue ship, Italy and Malta reveal legal shortcomings
‘At risk of their lives’
In his comments to Cadena Ser radio, Abalos said Spain could not “take on this responsibility alone.”
He said Spain’s acceptance of the Aquarius had aimed to draw attention to the problem of rescued migrants, but that a political solution was now needed.
German lawmaker Manuel Sarrazin of the Green party, who visited the boat on Monday, told DPA news agency that “if the weather is bad, we will have an emergency situation.” He described how people were “sitting packed together on board.”
Fellow Green party official Luise Amtsberg called the hygiene and medical situation “precarious.”
“The dispute over European jurisdiction should not be allowed to put people at risk of their lives,” she said.
Read more: United Nations: 68.5 million people displaced in 2017
The problems faced by boats such as the Lifeline and the Aquarius highlight the ongoing dispute within the European Union on how best to deal with the influx of migrants wanting to come to Europe over the Mediterranean, often to escape conflict or poverty at home.
tj/rt (dpa, epd)
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