Italy has assigned a port to two humanitarian vessels with 509 immigrants rescued in the last few days in the central Mediterranean but, before disembarking, they will have to navigate for hours and in bad weather to the indicated places.
The two ships are Geo Barents from Doctors Without Borderswith 248 immigrants on board, which will be able to dock at the port of Salerno, south of Naples, while the other is the Humanity 1 of the German organization SOS Humanity with 261, expected in Bari.
Both rescue ships were this Friday off the coast of the island of Sicily but the Italian authorities agreed to welcome them in two ports on the peninsula, forcing them to travel hundreds of miles and hours of navigation.
The Geo Barents, where a woman gave birth a few days ago and had to be evacuated, is already traveling “in terrible maritime conditions” to the port of Salerno, where it plans to arrive early tomorrow Sunday, according to sources from the organization . Humanity 1 has set course for Bari, where will arrive after covering the entire south of the Italian peninsula and travel about 300 nautical miles (about 555 kilometers).
Its captain asked the country’s authorities to assign them a closer port, since storms are expected during the route, but he was unsuccessful and is now sailing towards this city in Apulia, sources on board told Efe.
The decision not to allow the disembarkation of immigrants in Sicily responds to the desire to decongest the network of reception centers on the island, according to reports RAI public television.
However, this time the two humanitarian ships quickly obtained permission to dock and disembark their rescuers, a month after the blockade they suffered in the port of Catania by the far-right government Giorgia Meloni.
The Executive accuses these organizations of promoting the flow of immigration from North Africa and reproaches its partners in the European Union for not managing this phenomenon jointly to distribute asylum seekers.
For this reason, at the beginning of November the vice president of Meloni, Matteo Salvinifirst prevented the docking of the Geo Barents and Humanity 1 and then imposed selective landings, only allowing “vulnerable” migrants to make landfall.
Finally Italy accepted the disembarkation in Catania of all these rescued but unleashed a crisis with Paris, because a ship with the Norwegian flag and chartered by the French NGO SOS Mediterranean he had to head to the French port of Toulon with 230 immigrants.
Just two weeks later, the European Comission It presented an action plan to reinforce the agreed solidarity mechanism to help EU countries that receive more irregular migrants. Now, the rapid assignment of ports to these two ships implies an evident change of position in the Meloni Government.
Yesterday afternoon the German ambassador in Rome, Victor Elbling, announced that his country has taken care of the first 164 asylum seekers to arrive in Italy. “Solidarity works. Germany has welcomed the largest number of immigrants from Italy through the agreed solidarity mechanism. It’s lives, not numbers. We work closely with Italy in this sense,” he tweeted.
This week Meloni participated in a summit in Tirana between the EU and the Western Balkans and celebrated that “for the first time” the migration issue was a “priority” for Brussels.