More than 500 migrants are stuck aboard two rescue vessels off the Libyan coast, rights groups said, as European countries continue to deny them access to a safe place to disembark.
The Ocean Viking rescue ship has picked up 356 people in the Mediterranean Sea since Friday, but the vessel has yet to find safe harbour, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in a statement on Tuesday. The group said the Norwegian-flagged vessel is carrying 103 children, only 11 of whom are accompanied by a guardian.
Another ship, the Spanish-flagged Open Arms, is carrying another 160 people and also has nowhere safe to dock, Reuters news agency reported. MSF said that Libyan authorities have failed to provide a "place to disembark rescued people that meets the requirements of international law".
The group is now calling on the authorities in Malta and Italy to assist in finding a safe place for the migrants to disembark.
"Among the survivors are those bearing the harrowing signs of physical and psychological violence experienced during their journey through Libya," said Jay Berger, an MSF project coordinator who is aboard the Ocean Viking.