European Union leaders should show “concrete solidarity” with 49 migrants stranded on NGO ships off the coast of Malta who have been refused permission to land, according to Pope Francis.
“Forty nine migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by two NGO ships have been onboard for several days now, waiting to be able to disembark,” Francis told thousands of people gathered in Saint Peter’s square in Rome on January 6.
“I address a pressing appeal to European leaders that they show some concrete solidarity with respect to these people,” he added.
As reported by the Agence France-Presse (AFP), the Netherlands and Germany have offered to take some but only if their EU partners do the same, highlighting again the European Union’s long-running deadlock over sharing responsibility for migrants.
There are 17 people on board the German NGO Sea-Eye vessel, with another 32 on the Sea-Watch. Among them are a one-year-old baby and two children aged six and seven.
Both Italy and Malta have refused port access and on Sunday they reiterated that position.
“In Italy, there are no more arrivals. That is the line and it will not change,” far-right Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini told the Il Messaggero newspaper.
“Italian ports are closed and will remain so,” he added in a tweet.