The Address | Benghazi – Libya
BRUSSELS – The European Union says it is not legally responsible for dealing with an NGO rescue ship, Aquarius, in the Mediterranean Sea with 58 migrants aboard and has not been asked to help find safe harbor for the vessel, ABC News reported.
EU Commission spokeswoman Natasha Bertaud said “this is not a boat with an EU state flag, and it was also operating in the Libyan search and rescue area, so as such it does not engage European responsibility.”
Bertaud also said “we sympathize with the people aboard and hope that a solution can be found” but underlined that “the sole legal responsibility lies with the Libyan authorities, who coordinated the rescue operations.”
Aquarius, which is a migrant-rescue ship operated by Médecins Sans Frontières, has saved many migrants earlier in Tuesday morning but no maritime authorities responded to the ships’ calls. Médecins Sans Frontières then tweeted that rescue ship is heading towards France.
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) September 25, 2018
However, when asked during an interview on BFM news TV channel if Paris was ready to respond positively to a request from charities for permission to dock, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said: “For the moment, France says no”.
This comes in contradiction with French president Emmanuel Macron’s previous statements in which he criticized Italy for turning away the ship just months ago.