Tuesday 17 September 2019

Ireland to take in refugees from rescue ship in Mediterranean

SOS Mediterranée’s Aquarius has been one the vessels at the heart of the mission to rescue refugees. Photo: Reuters
SOS Mediterranée’s Aquarius has been one the vessels at the heart of the mission to rescue refugees. Photo: Reuters
Claire Murphy

Claire Murphy

Ireland will take refugees from the rescue ship Ocean Viking in the Mediterranean.

A total of 356 men, women and children were rescued from the sea by the ship, run by charities Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée, in an operation between August 9-12.

The refugees, including a one-year-old child, were fleeing war in Libya in four different boats when they got into difficulty. They remained on board for 14 days due to a stand off with European ports.

Yesterday Malta agreed it would allow them to disembark, but they would be relocated to other member states.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed Ireland is one of the six countries with France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania who will provide refuge and would take a small number of the migrants.

"We are relieved this long ordeal for the 356 people we have on board is finally over. Was it necessary to impose two weeks of excruciating wait for rescued people to be disembarked?" said Jay Berger, MSF project coordinator on board the Ocean Viking.

"It is sad that we have to repeat the same message to European leaders time and time again with no change. They can no longer claim ignorance to the disaster unfolding in the Mediterranean Sea."

In a statement, the Department of Justice said Ireland will take up to 100 asylum seekers during the remainder of 2019.

Irish Independent

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