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The Brief: Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship still stranded

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The Brief: Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship still stranded
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Portugal became the last EU country to offer to take some of the migrants from a charity rescue ship stranded in the Mediterranean.

Earlier France said it would welcome some of the 356 migrants onboard the Ocean Viking.

The Norwegian-flagged ship is currently waiting in the Sicilian Channel after Italy and Malta refused it permission to dock.

The migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya nearly two weeks ago and carry mostly Africans from Sudan. They include more than 100 minors, around 90 of them unaccompanied, said 'Doctors Without Borders'.

The European Commission today asked EU member states to show "solidarity" like six countries did by accepting migrants from another rescue ship, Open Arms.

"On the situation of the Ocean Viking vessel, we have raised this question in our contacts with member states, and as Commissioner Avramopolous said on Sunday, the Commission would welcome the same spirit of solidarity which has been shown by member states in the Open Arms case," said Natasha Bertaud, deputy chief spokesperson for the European Commission

A member of the NGO SOS Mediterranean, which operates Ocean Viking jointly with ‘Doctors Without Borders’ says they have no response yet and the situation is getting critical.

"We have asked the most able states to assist, Europe basically, to provide that solution that they have been working on as they say.

“We need absolutely to disembark them, to provide them with proper care, because this cannot carry on for very long.

"We have seen on the Open Arms how this can deteriorate extremely fast.”

Several EU countries said they would receive people from Open Arms, but they also claim that a more permanent and inclusive disembarkation mechanism is needed for cases in the future.

Discussion for this will take place in Malta in September when the European Council will try to find solutions.