Weekslong standoffs in Med have become the ‘new normal’


MILAN (AP) – A Doctors Without Borders spokesman aboard a rescue ship carrying 356 migrants says the fact that it has become “the new normal” for such ships to be stuck at sea for weeks waiting for permission to dock is “appalling.”

Jay Berger, project coordinator, on Thursday called for concrete action by the European Union and member states, saying the failure to identify a port of safety and disembark the migrants is “a complete shame. It is inhumane.”

The Ocean Viking ship conducted four rescues off Libya from Aug. 9-12, and is in its 13th day without being permitted to disembark the passengers. It has been sailing between Malta and the Italian island of Linosa.

Berger said that the situation on board remains “manageable,” but anxiety is growing.

In this Aug. 13, 2019 photo made available Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, rescued migrants rest on the deck of the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking vessel, operated by two French humanitarian groups, as it sails in the waters between the Italian island of Linosa, southern Italy, and Malta. Another potential migrant standoff looms as the Ocean Viking, carrying 356 migrants, has been sailing for 10 days without being able to dock after Malta refused to find a safe port while Italy hasn’t answered the ship’s request. (Hannah Wallace Bowman/MSF via AP)