(Marseille) Italy, under pressure to let humanitarian boats dock that have rescued hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean, ended up granting a safe port on Friday to the ship of the German NGO SOS Humanity.
Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani announced during an evening press conference in Rome that the ship Humanity 1 headed for Catania.
As soon as he arrives in the harbor of this Sicilian port, doctors will come on board to check the state of health of the 179 migrants he has rescued in the Mediterranean.
“It will be able to remain in our territorial waters for the time necessary for us to examine all the emergencies on board. We will accept all people for example because they are minors, or because, according to what we know from the media, they are pregnant women or with young children, people who have a fever, “he said. -he rocks.
But “all people who do not meet these criteria will have to be escorted out of our territorial waters by the ship,” he warned.
More than 1,000 migrants trying to reach Europe are currently on rescue ships at sea, including 234 on theocean viking of the NGO SOS Méditerranée, which operates in partnership with the International Federation of the Red Cross, and 572 on the Geo Barents of Doctors Without Borders (MSF). Added to these are those on board theHumanity 1 and the Rise Above of the Lifeline organization (94 migrants rescued).
A “revolt” on board would threaten the Rise Above which could also be authorized to approach the Italian coasts, suggested Mr. Tajani.
As of Thursday, Germany had sent a diplomatic note to Italy, asking “the Italian government to provide rapid assistance” in view of the humanitarian emergency. Faced with the deteriorating weather at sea, the NGO SOS Méditerranée, headquartered in Marseille, had indeed urged France, Spain and Greece to help it find a port of disembarkation as quickly as possible. .
So far, 20 requests for safe ports have been made by the NGO, without success.
France, however, declared itself ready on Friday to welcome women and children.
“We have told our Italian friends, together with our German friends, that we are obviously ready to take some of the women and children, as we have done previously,” said French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. on the RMC/BFMTV channels.
“I want to thank France for this opening. It is an important signal, ”reacted the head of Italian diplomacy.
SOS Méditerranée also welcomed France’s announcement but “any additional day of waiting could have serious consequences”, warned the director and co-founder of the NGO Sophie Beau.
On theocean vikingwhich is off the coast of Sicily, “rescued passengers are calm, although some are beginning to show signs of seasickness. Today is exactly two weeks since the first rescue operation”, explained to the AFP a photographer present on board.
“The sea is getting bigger and bigger. It is raining and the rain should redouble in the evening, ”he testified.
With the arrival of the extreme right to power in Rome, Italian leaders have multiplied anti-migrant declarations.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi has announced that he has issued a directive warning police forces and port authorities that his ministry is considering a ban on entry into the territorial waters of theocean viking and Geo Barentsboth under the Norwegian flag.
The Italian Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, which acts as the Vatican’s informal diplomatic arm, on Friday called on “Europe, and in particular the countries whose flag NGOs are flying, to find an agreement to relocate asylum seekers arrived on Italian soil.
But the Norwegian government declined to AFP any “responsibility […] towards persons embarked” on board ships.
For the director general of the association for aid to migrants France Terre d’Asile, Delphine Rouilleault, on Twitter, a “standoff […] is without a doubt an obligatory step in order not to let Italy trample on international law”.
Since the beginning of the year, 1,765 migrants have disappeared in the Mediterranean, including 1,287 in the central Mediterranean, the most dangerous migratory route in the world, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
According to the Italian Interior Ministry, 85,991 people arrived by sea in Italy between 1er January and November 2, 2022, half of whom are nationals of Tunisia, Egypt and Bangladesh.