Italy’s finance guard on Tuesday nevertheless seized the Mare Jonio NGO run migrant rescue ship off Lampedusa, Interior Ministry sources confirmed.
The Mare Jonio was one of two NGO migrant rescue ships at the centre of the latest standoffs with outgoing Interior Minister and League party leader Matteo Salvini. On Monday the vessel ignored the entry ban and landed their migrants in Sicily, on Lampedusa.
The German NGO migrant rescue ship Eleonore on Monday entered the Sicilian port of Pozzallo near Ragusa. The ship, run by the NGO Mission Lifeline, has over 100 migrants on board.
It declared a state of emergency on board and ignored an Italian entry ban issued by Salvini. Police and coast guard officials were already waiting on the dock for the vessel.
Ragusa prosecutors have opened a probe into Eleonore’s arrival, instructing law enforcement officers to carry out investigations to see if any criminal offences had been committed. The Ragusa prefect will soon decide on possible sanctions for breaching the Security Decree’s ban on entering Italian waters.
But Salvini’s closed ports policy may be changed by the likely new 5-Star-Democratic Party government.
Italian NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans said Monday it had just heard that the Italian coast guard would allow the last 31 migrants aboard the Mare Jonio ship to land at Lampedusa for health reasons.
“Their odyssey is over and a bit of humanity can be glimpsed on the horizon,” it said. “Welcome to Europe!” Centre-left Democratic Party (PD) leader Nicola Zingaretti on Monday told Premier-designate Giusepe Conte that a “radical” change was needed from the last government’s closed ports policy led by Salvini.
Another NGO migrant rescue ship, the Alan Kurdi, is still engaged in standoffs with Salvini. Amid the high-profile standoffs with the NGOs, “ghost landings” by illegals from north Africa have been continuing apace.
“What is happening in these hours in the Mediterranean, amid continuous landings on our coasts and inhuman bans, confirms that the immigration policies of the last few months have not solved anything,” said Zingaretti.
“I once more ask premier(-designate) Conte to immediately tackle the situation of persons blocked at sea in conditions of humanitarians emergency and, obviously, we continue to ask that we should gear up for a radical turnaround in the policies on these issues.”