By Cristina Cabrejas
Rome, Dec 24 (EFE).- For over 750 migrants and humanitarian crews in the Mediterranean, Christmas Eve on Friday is a day like any other as they wait in the cold for an Italian port to allow them to disembark.
After being rescued from the ocean, 765 refugees on board three different NGO ships have been enduring cold weather conditions, some for over a week, as they wait to be allowed on Italian soil.
The latest rescue operation was on Friday, when the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Geo Barents navy ship, with already over 450 migrants on board, rescued some 100 more migrants on the morning of Christmas Eve.
On the Ocean Viking, where International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) volunteers are aiding refugees, 114 migrants including women, children and two newborns are currently waiting in harsh weather conditions.
They were later joined on Friday by the Sea Watch ship that also arrived in the Mediterranean after rescuing 93 people in a boat that was “impossible for it to continue sailing.”
The bad weather has not stopped migrants from leaving African coasts on ill-equipped boats bound for Europe.
So far this year, 64,632 have reached Italian coasts.
Along with the migrants are ship crews and volunteers, who will also spend Christmas away from home this year.
“The most special thing we would like to receive today is that call from the competent authorities that the ship has a port,” Anabel Montes, head of the MSF rescue team aboard the Geo Barents, told Efe.
“We hope that on such a special date as Christmas Day these people will be ashore, which is where they should be according to international conventions as much as for the simplest morality that shipwrecked people have to stay safe. And now we will do everything in our power to give dignity to these people,” she added.
“It is Christmas Eve and Christmas means solidarity and taking care of people. Right now that is what we are doing on this ship, within our limits. It is a relief ship and we can deal with emergencies but not with long-term needs, that is why it is necessary, especially for the children, and the two newborns, that we disembark,” Viviana, an Italian lifeguard aboard Ocean Viking, said in a video sent to the press. EFE