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Ocean Viking takes more Africans on board

The ship Ocean Viking cruising off Libya has taken another 105 Africans on board. The new arrivals are, according to information from the AFP news agency, exclusively men. Most of them come from Sudan.

Published: August 14, 2019, 9:40 am

    This means that the 200-person SOS Méditerranée and MSF boat has meanwhile welcomed 356 immigrants. On another ship, the Open Arms, there are 150 migrants.

    Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini responded to the news via Twitter. “Am in the Ministry this morning to prevent the more than 500 migrants from boarding the ships of two non-governmental organisations,” he wrote. For 350 of the Africans, Libya has already provided a safe haven.

    But at least one NGO said they would “flee” to Europe. “The Ocean Viking will not dock in Libya with the 356 people rescued recently.

    “The request for a safe port was made to the Libyan Rescue Coordination Center already on Friday 9 August after the rescue of the first boat, because the Libyan one is the authority maritime reference in the search and rescue area and would be responsible for indicating a safe port.

    “But for international law, neither Tripoli nor any other port in Libya is a safe haven and bringing people back to Libya would be a serious violation.” This was underlined in a note by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

    “MSF and SOS Mediterranee will not bring people back to Libya under any circumstances and are waiting for the allocation of a port that meets the requirements of international law, where the 356 vulnerable men, women and children aboard the Ocean Viking will land,” the note from MSF continued.

    Sources of the Interior Ministry had made it known that the ship had obtained indications to go to the port of Tripoli, but the NGO’s rejection has been firm. “With 356 vulnerable men, women and children currently on board, the ship Ocean Viking, of Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, is now leaving the Sar Libyan area, pending the assignment of a safe place.”

    It has an “army” of migrants on board it wants to bring to Europe. And, indeed, the ship is currently moving away from the Sar Libyan area.

    On the occasion of the anniversary of the construction of the Berlin Wall, the self-appointed Lifeline rescue organization Mission Lifeline compared the dead at the Berlin Wall with dead migrants in the Mediterranean.

    “Nothing has been learned from history: 18 758 border kills in the Mediterranean,” tweeted Mission Lifeline. They used the hashtags #Mauerbau and #SachsenRetten.

    Salvini has meanwhile warned his still-coalition partner, the Five-Star movement, against an alliance with the Democratic Party of Matteo Renzi. In the past, this alliance had “granted” 500 000 arrivals by ship to Italians.

    Last week, Salvini declared the previous government unfit for work and announced new elections. Before that, however, both chambers of Parliament have to voiced their mistrust to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

    Italian parliamentarians were due to vote on the organisation of early elections this week. With his popularity, the Minister of the Interior may be able to freely take a stand against Brussels.

    “Let’s go straight to Parliament to take note that there is no longer a majority (…) and quickly give the floor to the voters,” Salvini said in a statement Thursday.

    Giuseppe Conte, president of the Council of Ministers has accused Salvini of having provoked the election to “capitalize on the consensus” the popular League leader is currently enjoying. Salvini has risen from a mere 4 percent two-and-a-half years ago to 40 percent today.

    “The fruits of his political work have begun to bear,” says Antoine Colonna, editor-in-chief of Valeurs Actuelles.

    He has succeeded, on the issue of migrants, as well as on the issue of the fight against the mafia, in taking firm measures, and Italians trust him more and more. “At the same time, relations with the M5S have become seriously weakened. Public deficit, TGV Lyon Turin, lower taxes, rescue for Alitalia are just some of the topics on which Matteo Salvini and Luigi di Maio, President of the Italian Council, could not agree.

    By associating with the rest of the conservatives, including Berlusconi’s party and Fratelli d’Italia, with whom he shares many values, Salvini is credited with about 54 percent of the votes.

    With this clear majority, “Salvini wants to propose a budget for the Italians and for Brussels. This can lead to a quick divorce with Brussels that can take out Italy, first out of of Europe, and why not from the EU,” said Colonna.

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