The UN migration and refugee agencies on Friday June 21st called on Italy to let 43 migrants from Libya disembark from a boat that had rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea earlier this month, AP has reported.
Migrants on board the Sea Watch 3 have been left in limbo as they have not been allowed onto the Italian island of Lampedusa since they were rescued at sea on June 12th. Joel Millman, spokesperson for the International Organisation for Migration, said Libya's capital had "offered its port to the Sea Watch. The Italian government said they should go to Tripoli."
Sea Watch 3 has refused to return those rescued -- including children and sick people -- back to crisis-hit Libya, saying Tripoli was not a safe port. UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch, said, "the country in which territory this boat is, they have the obligation to let these people disembark," adding, "no one should be returned back," to war-torn Libya. "These desperate people need to disembark," Baloch said. "This is an obligation under international law." Millman said Italian coast guard teams had rescued and taken another 80 people to Lampedusa overnight.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, alluding to the Dutch-flagged vessel, said the migrants "can go to the Netherlands." Salvini says refugees escaping wars will be welcomed in Italy but other migrants heading to Europe for economic reasons have no right to enter the country.
More than 12,000 people have died since 2014 trying to flee Libya for Europe by what the UN refugee agency calls the, "world's deadliest sea crossing."