Médecins Sans Frontières Faces Off Against the French Government

While France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, is in New York hobnobbing with Trump and Trudeau at UN Week, another migrant crisis is brewing in the Mediterranean.

The issue is the Aquarius, a Panamanian ship operated by Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders) and the SOS Méditeranée, a humanitarian organization that helps find safe passage for African immigrants trying to cross the Mediterranean. The ship contained 58 African immigrants who had been shipwrecked while trying to cross over to Europe, and the Panamanian government decided to revoke its flag, making the ship ineligible to dock in foreign ports as it is no longer recognized as an officially registered vessel. Francis Vallat, president of SOS Méditerranée, refused to encourage France or other European countries to offer the ship a “flag of convenience,” saying that it is Panama’s job to fix their own mistake.

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It was Malta that finally stepped in to offer the Aquarius a port, before distributing the passengers amongst other European countries. But that is far from a promise of future humanitarian aid on the part of France and the rest of Europe.