A 37-day maritime standoff surrounding 27 migrants finally came to an end on Saturday, September 12. In what is being described as the ‘longest standoff’ in Europe's maritime history, migrants had been trapped onboard a commercial tanker after being rescued from an overcrowded boat. The asylum seekers were rescued around 70 nautical miles of the coast of Libya and included a pregnant woman and a child.
As per Saving Humans NGO, the migrants were rescued by the Danish tanker Maersk Etienne on August 5 but then the Maltese authorities refused to allow the migrants to disembark on its territory despite having asked the tanker to intervene. Following the Maltese authorities' u-turn on the rescue, the tanker was now stranded with 27 anxious migrants on board.
As per a video uploaded on Twitter by an Italian NGO Mediterranea, the Captain of the Danish tanker Volodymyr Yeroshkin notes that the ship did not have the facilities to adequately house and take care of the migrants on boards. The turning point in the standoff arrived when a rescue boat operated by an NGO transferred the migrants to its boat. Subsequently, the Italian interior ministry allowed the migrants to disembark at the port of Pozzallo in Sicily.
Seafarers will never disobey the laws at sea: they know that one day they could be the ones in need. Captain Volodymyr Yeroshkin of #Etienne has been left by #Malta in standoff for over a month with 27 people rescued on board. Against the law.#LetThemDown#AllBlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/oiokPY957X— Mediterranea Saving Humans USA (@SavingHumansUSA) September 6, 2020
Meanwhile, Greece's largest migrant camp in Moria suffered from a devastating fire that has left thousands of migrants without shelter. At the time of the fire, the camp was occupied by people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia and was originally designed to house 2,750 people. Moria camp was set up back in 2015-16 to handle the massive wave of migration into Europe.
Authorities in Greece are currently scrambling to house thousands of refugee men, women and children who have been forced out on the road and seek shelter wherever they can. Temporary camps with tents offering the migrants have already been set up. As per reports, Greek migration minister Notis Mitarachis has stated that his officials are doing their utmost to ensure the migrants have somewhere safe to sleep.