UN urges European nations 'not to leave fleeing migrants on high seas'
The United Nations refugee agency urgently appealed to European governments yesterday to let two migrant rescue ships disembark more than 500 passengers who remain stranded at sea as countries bicker over who should take responsibility for them.
The people rescued while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa are on ships chartered by humanitarian aid groups, which the Italian government has banned from its territory. Malta has also refused to let the ships into the country's ports.
"This is a race against time," Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR special envoy, said.
"Storms are coming, and conditions are only going to get worse. To leave people who have fled violence in Libya on the high seas in this weather would be to inflict suffering upon suffering."