>> This is the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, arriving in Marseilles last Friday, a routine technical stop that should have only taken three or four days. But nearly a week later, and the ship is still sitting in the calm waters of the French port, as the charities that run the ship take stock of a European political storm around migration and what they call the criminalization of NGO search and rescue missions.
Speaking from his cabin on board the Aquarius, project coordinator for Médecins Sans Frontières said the obstruction of the NGO's was clear on the boat's last mission off the Libyan coast.>> We were only one of the two vessels dedicated for search and rescue at sea. And we were told that our assistance was not needed, which is very surprising when you know that last Sunday there were more than seven boats in distress at sea, meaning approximately 1,000 people in distress
>> Since the Aquarius was turned away from Italy and then Malta last month, with 629 migrants on board, a divided European Union has been in crisis mode. It's since agreed to tighten its external borders, and do more to help north African countries bring down the number of migrants attempting dangerous sea crossings.
Some European leaders say NGO search and rescue operations actually aid people traffickers. The MSF say, when they're not there, lives are put at risk. The last week in June was the deadliest this year, with at least 220 people drowning.>> People are determined. They are willing to flee what they call the hell.
And they will not stop trying to escape, to flee, if there's no NGOs there, just trying to flee. So, yeah, it is very concerning that there is no priority given to the people's lives. It's only about border control and to control the immigration.>> Added that the Aquarius stopping its rescue missions was not an option.
Not while people continue to die at sea.