>> An NGO search and rescue vessel has entered its third week stranded in the Mediterranean with 32 migrants on board because European countries have refused to let the ship enter its ports. I'm Darrin Zammit Lupi from Reuters and I've just spent a few days on the German NGO ship, Sea-Watch 3, off the coast of Malta.
The migrants aboard, like thousands and thousands before them in the last few years, were rescued from a flimsy rubber boat off the coast of Libya. Together with the Sea-Watch crew, mostly made up of European volunteers, they celebrated Christmas certain that they would soon be safe on land. Christmas came and went.
The New Year came and went. The Maltese government has allowed it into its territory and waters to seek shelter from stormy weather and rough seas. But the migrants, who include three young children, have grown frustrated and tired. Worn out by seasickness, stress, and mental fatigue. Crew members have worked themselves to the bone trying to keep morale high.
At one point, they ran dangerously low in supplies, but, finally, got new provisions on board, as well as replacement crew members. Yet, the changing crew also adds to the stress the migrants on board are experiencing. They had bonded with the first crew and seeing them leave whilst they remain stuck on board is another hardship.
In an act of desperation, one migrant even jumped overboard and tried to swim to shore three miles away. The crew quickly pulled him out when he realized the attempt was futile. Sea-Watch isn't alone either. Another German humanitarian group, Sea Eye, is also in waters off Malta, with 17 people rescued on December 29th on board.
After years of relatively open door policies, European governments have closed their borders to these flows. Particularly in far right administrations such as Italy's. Numbers have fallen dramatically. But realistically speaking, no one expects the migrant flow to completely stop. Some use state for negotiation to divide migrants between them, but it's being done on an ad-hoc basis.
And according to humanitarian organizations, this is likely to result in further loss of life at sea.