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Disembarkation of Alain Kurdi. Screenshot from Twitter

NGO rescue vessel Alan Kurdi entered Italy by evading controls

The ship of the German NGO has been in Italian waters since late afternoon on Tuesday, well before Rome's authorization arrived to give the vessel the green light.

Published: December 4, 2019, 6:21 pm

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    The Alan Kurdi, landed in Messina well ahead of schedule in the late evening of Tuesday, well before the go-ahead for the landing of two NGO ships had been announced, in particular the Ocean Viking of SOS Mediterranée and the Alan Kurdi of the German NGO Sea Eye.

    The first is destined for Pozzallo while the second headed instead for Messina. But the German NGO, as Italian daily Il Giornale learned from local sources, docked before they were officially allowed to enter the Italian port. Landing operations were happening at one of the piers of the port of the city already early in the morning.

    The Alan Kurdi sailed into the Messina during the night, after midnight, with just an hour’s notice. That has been given as the reason why the go-ahead of the Ministry of the Interior arrived after the Sea Eye ship had already been inside Italian territorial waters.

    It means, in a nutshell, that the Alan Kurdi entered the EU port without official clearance and without waiting for the Interior Ministry’s decision. Also, after disembarkation on December 4, the Sea-Eye complained that it had taken “so long” for European countries to come to an agreement despite an “alleged agreement for distribution”.

    But to confirm this transgression, a photo on Twitter shows the path taken by Alan Kurdi in the last hours before entering Italy. In is thus verifiable that during the night at 20:39 the ship was already near the coast of the Sicilian city, being a few nautical miles from the Strait of Messina.

    This is because, as the daily the Giornale di Sicilia reported, the same Alan Kurdi crew had already decided to land in Italy, without waiting for the green light of the government and the interior ministry from Rome.

    There were previous reports that the NGO’s Sea Eye ship had been heading to Palermo, given the availability of space for migrants offered by the first citizen of the Sicilian capital, Mayor Leoluca Orlando, a few hours earlier.

    But there has still been no confirmation of such rumours, and the only thing certain is that Alan Kurdi entered Italian territorial waters many hours before the official go-ahead. For this reason, the ship entered Messina an hour after midnight.

    Entering in the capital with little warning, the rescue vessel sailed before the Viminale’s decision was ready. The migrants also remained on board the ship all night, while the actual disembarkation operations of the 61 people on board started at around 9am.

    “Finally, the news in the night: Safe Port Messina. It’s over,” tweeted the organisation.

    On Thursday, November 28, the Alan Kurdi had rescued 84 migrants while 23 of those rescued had to be evacuated allegedly for medical reasons in the following days.

    Both of the rescues took place in the Libyan search and rescue zone and because of this, the crew on board the Alan Kurdi were told to take their cargo to the port of Tripoli, but they refused.

    The Alan Kurdi then made several appeals on social media. The director of operations on board is Juan Matias Gil from Argentina, appealed in English and Italian to the mayor of Palermo, Orlando, to help them.

    Orlando is part of a pro-migration network of “cities of sanctuary” together with Barcelona and Paris, and he quickly offered the vessel a safe port. He replied: “Dear Juan, Dear Alan Kurdi crew, Palermo is a welcoming city and its port should always be open. I will ask the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to intervene and guarantee immediate disembarkation in Palermo for the migrants on board who find themselves in this emergency.”

    At the beginning of the week, Sea-Eye tweeted that three evacuations had taken place from their boat in 72 hours. “Now, the fifth night at sea begins,” they noted on Tuesday.

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