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Migrant Boat Heads for France after Rescue

Migrant Boat Heads for France after Rescue

Wednesday, 23 September, 2020 - 11:30
FILE PHOTO: A crew member of the German NGO Sea-Eye migrant rescue ship 'Alan Kurdi' takes part in a training exercise while on their way to the search and rescue zone off the North African coast, in the western Mediterranean Sea, August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

A rescue boat headed for France Wednesday after being turned away from Italy, an NGO said, setting up a new standoff with authorities over migrants saved from drowning in the Mediterranean.

The rescue boat Alan Kurdi is travelling to Marseille as fast as possible to evacuate the 125 migrants on board, AFP quoted the German-based aid organization Sea-Eye as saying in a statement.

"In order to avoid a long and stressful crossing, we must request for an immediate disembarkation for all of rescued people within the next hours," said Jan Ribbeck, head of operations at Sea-Eye.

The ship, named Alan Kurdi after the Syrian boy who made global headlines when he drowned and his body washed up on the shores of Turkey in 2015, rescued 133 people, including 62 children, from three different boats off the Libyan coast on Saturday.

Italian coast guards removed two women, one man and five children, with the youngest being five months old.

However, "so far no country wants to take responsibility for the 125 people on board," the organization said.

Sea-Eye informed maritime rescue centers in Italy, Malta, Germany and France, as well as the German foreign ministry, of their request for a safe port but none replied, it said.

"The inaction of the Italian and German authorities forces us to take this step," said Sea-Eye chairman Gorden Isler.

"European maritime rescue coordination centers are responsible and obliged to cooperate, because after all, human lives are at stake."

More than 600 migrants have perished this year while attempting the Mediterranean crossing, the deadliest route for those hoping for a better life in Europe.

Almost 50,000 have made the journey so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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