Stranded migrants disembark in Italy as one ship heads for France | Migration news

Stranded migrants disembark in Italy as one ship heads for France | Migration news

The remaining passengers on two humanitarian ships, which Italy had initially refused to accept, were allowed to disembark as another ship carrying 234 people headed for France in the hope of a safe port.

The Ocean Viking, operated by the European organization SOS Mediterranee, left Sicily for the French island of Corsica on Tuesday.

It remains unclear whether the ship will be allowed to dock by the French government, which has previously called on Italy to provide safe harbor for refugees and migrants.

The organization told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that it had sent nine requests to the “security site” but had yet to receive a response.

Ocean Viking has been at sea for more than two weeks since its first rescue in the Central Mediterranean.

Last week, Prime Minister Georgia Maloney’s new right-wing government fell silent on repeated appeals by rescue groups for safe harbor, effectively stranding the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking and Geo Barents and the German-flagged Humanity 1 at sea.

Rome sent emails Norwegian and German embassies, saying NGO ships flying their flags do not follow European safety rules and undermine what they describe as the fight against illegal immigration.

Italian authorities on Sunday allowed only selected refugees and migrants deemed “vulnerable” to disembark Geo Barents and Humanity 1, with the aim of sending the remaining 250 or so people back to sea.

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi sparked outrage on Monday after he called those separated by authorities over the weekend “residual cargo” who did not need to be rescued.

All passengers were allowed to disembark during the turnaround late Tuesday.

Humanity 1, operated by the SOS Humanity group, disembarked its remaining 35 passengers at the Sicilian port of Catania.

They had earlier announced that they had started a hunger strike to draw attention to their fate after another 144 people were let off the ship.

“We are relieved that people are able to get ashore and that all those who have escaped distress at sea have finally been assigned to a place of safety as required by maritime law,” said Till Rummenhall, SOS Humanity’s ship operations officer. is in the statement.

“However, we are appalled by the blatant disregard for the law and human rights by the Italian authorities.”

The nonprofit announced its intention Monday legal action Against the Italian government’s decision to selectively deport migrants deemed vulnerable while rejecting others.

According to the order, the captain of Humanity 1 was asked to leave port again on Sunday with the 35 survivors, which he refused. “It is my duty to complete the rescue of those in distress by disembarking all survivors in the port of Catania as a place of safety. I can’t leave the port until all the survivors from the distress at sea have disembarked,” said Joachim Ebeling.

The Geo Barents, operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders or MSF), was also allowed to disembark its remaining 214 passengers. “This is the end of the rescue operation according to international convention, maritime law and obvious ethical and moral needs,” MSF team leader Riccardo Gatti said.

The organization tweeted that the ship would return to sea on Wednesday for another rescue operation. “It is our response to the reckless policy of not supporting the EU,” it said.

Two Syrian men who were denied permission to disembark over the weekend jumped off the Geo Barents on Monday and spent the night on a dock after being refused re-boarding.

A man identified by the organization as Ahmad left Damascus in 2020. He reached Libya and tried to reach Europe six times. Each time he was taken back to detention centers in Libya, where he was tortured.

A second man, identified as Youssef, said he was “going crazy” on board. “I left northern Syria to offer my family a safer life. I have four daughters who are in Syria and I hope [they] he can join me soon,” he said.

“In the last few years, we’ve seen bombs fall on our city and they can’t go to school because it’s still not safe. I just want to find a place where we can be free from fear.”

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