SOS Méditerranée sends new rescue ship to the Mediterranean
The rescue organisation SOS Méditerranée has set out again for a new mission in the Mediterranean to pick up migrants waiting in Libya to come to the EU.
Published: August 6, 2019, 9:54 am
On Sunday evening, the Ocean Viking, the largest ship of the NGO currently operating in the Mediterranean Sea, will depart said a responsible official on Twitter.
The vessel can accommodate up to 200 people and has 1000 lifejackets on board, German daily Die Welt reported. The ship is sailing under a Norwegian flag. On board, there are also nine members of the aid organization Doctors Without Borders.
Previously, SOS Méditerranée and MSF had shared the controversial boat Aquarius.
Meanwhile, the rescue ship Alan Kurdi that belongs to the Sea-Eye organisation has also set out on a new journey. The team announced via Twitter, right after the handover of 40 migrants to the Maltese Coast Guard, that they will again head for the waters off the coast of Libya.
The 40 African immigrants were allowed to land in Malta. This was announced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, according to news agency dpa. The Federal Government and the EU Commission had agreed on the distribution of all persons involved. It remains unclear how many of these will be settling in Germany initially, but some sources said “many”.
Following request by #Germany, #Malta will allow 40migrants on German vessel #AlanKurdi to transfer to @Armed_Forces_MT asset, enter port. German gov & @EU_Commission arranged for all persons to be distributed amongst number of EU MemberStates. No migrants will remain in Malta-JM
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) August 3, 2019
The migrants on Sunday boarded a vessel, a ship of the Maltese Navy, outside Maltese territorial waters, according to the government in Valletta.
The Sea-Eye rescue organisation posted a video on Twitter showing the celebrating Africans after learning that they were allowed to travel to Malta.
The Alan Kurdi had taken on the migrants, mainly from the Ivory Coast and Cameroon, on Wednesday off the coast of Libya. A reporter from the Bild newspaper accompanied the ship on his journey.
Italy, however, had refused the Alan Kurdi, as it has in the past, entry into one of its ports. “It’s a German non-governmental organisation, so it knows where to go, not to Italy. End of story,” said Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Twitter.
Sea-Eye announced shortly after the tweet that it would not be heading to Italian waters. “We will not offer Matteo Salvini another opportunity for such an unworthy show. We take our responsibilities of the saved people seriously and we will now go to Malta. We still have the diesel we need to get there and we can then take this decision autonomously,” said spokesman Gorden Isler.
It was also in Valletta that the landing of the 65 migrants had ended after a tug of war with Rome in July.
The NGO, after having picked up migrants off the coast of Libya, had refused to disembark in Tripoli and headed towards Italy asking for a safe landing port. The request was rejected by Rome, which had invited the NGO to contact Malta who could send a doctor in case of an emergency on the Alan Kurdi.
Europe has since taken action to find a European solution to the landing of immigrants after Italy’s refusal to take on more migants. “The role of the European Commission is to always be constructive with all Member States and to seek solutions to support the Member States that need it,” explained spokeswoman Mina Andreeva.
“What I can say is that the Commission started contacts to support and coordinate the Member States that want to participate in solidarity efforts with regards to the migrants who are on board the Alan Kurdi. These contacts are going on, there are already some Member States that have shown interest in accepting the relocations, but it is not up to us to provide the details.”
Berlin had previously tried what Salvini called “blackmail” against Italy: “The German government sent very bad signals. They sent me an e-mail, which comes from the European Commission, which is basically blackmail on the part of the German Government.
So I translate, that it had undertaken to take 30 immigrants landed from Gregoretti. Now it seems that they write: we take those 30 if you take the 40 that are aboard the ship that is approaching Lampedusa for landing. What good is that? I’ve had enough!”
According to a poll published on Friday in the daily Il Sole 24 Ore, the popularity of Matteo Salvini continues to grow. Voter support for the League, his party, now stands at 39 percent, double his score in last year’s general election. His anti-migrant speech, widely criticised in Europe, seems to be paying off nationwide.
Germany is one of the countries that regularly agrees to accept immigrants from rescue vessels from the Mediterranean.
Only recently did a request by the AfD in the Bundestag show that the Federal Government repeatedly agrees to allow Africans to enter the country. The party therefore warned that Germany’s behavior could develop into a not insignificant pull factor.
Another rescue vessel, Open Arms, operated by the Spanish NGO Proactiva, is still at sea, waiting after Italian authorities denied it entry.
The boat is carrying 124 migrants who were rescued from waters off the Libyan coast last week.
Yet another boat carrying 48 migrants, including 27 women, three of whom are pregnant, and six minors, arrived on its own steam on the island of Lampedusa on Monday.
According to statements gathered by Mediterranean Hope – a program for migrants run by the Federation of Evangelical Churches – the migrants had traveled for two days after having left from Libya.
During the journey, an unspecified number of people reportedly fell into the sea, including a 5-month-old baby and a 30-year-old man.
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