Two humanitarian ships with a total of 509 migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean They arrived this Sunday at the Italian ports indicated to disembark, after sailing for more than a day in adverse weather conditions.
The Geo Barentschartered by Doctors Without Borders, arrived at the port of Salerno, south of Naples, with 248 migrants on board, after a mother who gave birth to a baby and a 14-year-old boy with severe abdominal pain were evacuated.
The humanity 1from the German organization SOS Humanity, entered the port of Bari (south) with another 261 Salvadoran immigrants at sea, including 40 women, three pregnant, and 93 minors, 67 of whom were traveling alone.
Until Friday, the two humanitarian vessels were off the coast of the Italian island of Sicily (south) waiting to be assigned a safe port to which to take these people, rescued days before in international waters.
Nevertheless the Italian authorities chose to grant them two ports –Salerno and Bari- which are located in peninsular territory and which forced the ships and the 509 rescued immigrants to sail for more than a day in harsh weather conditions.
“We have been sailing for almost 40 hours at full speed and in adverse weather conditions, with very strong winds and waves up to three meters high. The journey was exhausting,” Humanity 1 said.
The Italian Ministry of the Interior explained that this choice of ports responds to the need to no longer saturate the network of reception centers in Sicily and that a port has been assigned quickly, unlike other times, due to the imminence of a storm.
In this way, Ministry sources maintain that the government, of the ultra-right Giorgia Meloni has not backed down on her policy against NGOs who save immigrants at sea, whom he accuses of promoting the migratory flow from Africa with their mere presence.
At the beginning of November, two weeks after coming to power, Meloni and his vice-president, Matteo Salvini, began a fight against the NGOs, precisely against Geo Barents and Humanity 1, to force a European debate and distribute the asylum seekers arriving on their shores.
With a decree they prohibited their access to Italian ports but they disobeyed it and, once docked in the port of Catania (south), they were imposed a selective disembarkation, that is, only vulnerable immigrants were allowed to go ashore.
In the end, the total disembarkation of both ships was allowed, but one, the Ocean Viking chartered by the SOS Méditerranée organization, had to head for a French port due to Italian rejection, which earned Meloni a first crisis with Paris.