Marseille - SOS Méditerranée is solemnly asking France to make an “exception” to the rule of the nearest safe harbour and to allow the 58 migrants currently on board the Aquarius to disembark in Marseille.
“In these exceptional circumstances it is the only way to save the Aquarius,” says the director of operations at SOS Méditerranée, Frédéric Penard, referring among other things, to the issue of the Panamanian flag being revoked upon complaint by the Italian government.
Francis Vallat, the president of the NGO, made an appeal: “I solemnly address all European countries, which are States under the rule of law. Do not allow this to happen. You may be for or against Aquarius, but violating the rule of law, leaving Aquarius without a flag, would be a disgrace.” He added: “We are asking for a flag, any flag, in order to continue our operations. We can’t stop, we don’t want to stop, we won’t stop our mission to save human lives.”However, France has called for a “European solution” for the ship Aquarius, arguing that it should dock at the “nearest safe harbour” instead of Marseille. The position heralds a new impasse, after the episode in June which was resolved with the reception offered by Spain. “As we have done several times in recent months, we are looking for a European solution under the principle of the nearest safe harbour,” said the office of the prime minister, in the light of the announcement from SOS Méditerranée.