A Syrian woman with her children disembarks from a ferry, at the port of Piraeus, near Athens, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. About 400 migrants and refugees arrived at the port from the island of Lesbos as authorities have been moving hundreds of migrants deemed to be vulnerable from the overcrowded Moria camp to camps on the mainland. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
PIRAEUS, Greece – The Latest on Europe's migrant crisis (all times local):
The European Union says it is not legally responsible for dealing with an NGO rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea with 58 migrants aboard and has not been asked to help find safe harbor for the vessel.
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."
In a tweet earlier, the humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres, which jointly operates the ship the Aquarius 2, said the vessel was headed north toward France.
Bertaud 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."
A rescue vessel carrying 58 migrants pulled from the Mediterranean north of Libya is heading toward France and an uncertain welcome.
In a tweet Tuesday, the humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres, which jointly operates the Aquarius 2, said it was "headed north towards France."
On Monday, the ship asked French authorities to let the migrants disembark in the southern city of Marseille. France deflected the request, saying there were closer ports and a need for a European solution.
Humanitarian boats loaded with rescued migrants are increasingly shunted between European governments under political pressure to stem newcomers. The EU has trained Libya's coast guard in sea rescues, but aid groups say Libya in no way meets the definition of a safe harbor.
About 400 asylum-seekers who had been held in the severely overcrowded Moria migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos have arrived in Greece's main port of Piraeus to be transferred to other camps and residences on the mainland.
The asylum-seekers, mainly families from Syria, Afghanistan and African countries, arrived Tuesday onboard an overnight ferry from Lesbos. They are among around 2,000 people whom the government has pledged to move out of Moria, a facility built for 3,100 people but which is at nearly three times capacity.
Charities have slammed conditions in the camp, citing cases of sexual attack, deplorable sanitation and an increase in suicide attempts among residents. The local regional governor has threatened to shut the facility unless the government improves conditions.