Sea Watch 3, three nautical miles south of Malta – The waves finally calmed down, giving those suffering seasickness some relief and time to walk out of the small overcrowded shelter, where 32 migrants or refugees are spending their days onboard the Sea Watch 3, the Dutch-flagged rescue ship that saved them from international waters near the Libyan Sea on December 22, 2018.
The five-by-six metre shelter on board the ship has only six bunk beds. The floor is covered with blankets so the migrants don’t sleep on the cold metal floor. Food is mostly rice and beans.
Some movies are shown on a small television screen installed in the makeshift shelter, the only distraction for these people sailing the Mediterranean Sea still without a destination.
Europe is just three nautical miles away.
Coming from the DRC, Mali, Egypt, Libya and other African nations, the rescued passengers all hope for a safer life in Europe after spending at least six months in Libya being forced to work for their freedom, often being conned by fake smugglers or militiamen.
“It’s getting more and more unstable every day, the level of stress is increasing,” said Frank Doener, the rescue vessel’s doctor, who is concerned about the physical and psychological condition of the “guests”.
He urges the European Union to stop this situation as soon as possible.
Kim Heaton-Heather, head of mission for Sea Watch on board the Sea Watch 3, said that many European countries have not offered a solution to the humanitarian situation inside the boat.
“The guests are still on board now because Malta has refused to allow us to come to port, and to be used as a port of safety. We have requested that twice, as we have been at a stand off the coast of Malta for a number of days. Also, Holland has not given us a port of safety and they are saying it is not really their responsibility. Italy also said it’s not their responsibility either because they were not the coordinating body of the rescue.”
As the migrants on board wait for an answer, the vessel continues to sail near the Maltese coast to shelter from bad weather. All the passengers can do is wait.