Italy allows stranded migrants to disembark
Italy is due to allow 116 rescued migrants on its Bruno Gregoretti coastguard ship (pictured) to disembark, interior minister Matteo Salvini has said after other EU countries agreed to share responsibility for their care.
The far-right deputy prime minister posted on social media yesterday (Wednesday) that the passengers would be allowed to disembark after he had forced the migrants to float off Sicily for five days.
The standoff was immediately set to repeat itself with Salvini yesterday banning the Alan Kurdi rescue ship belonging to the German charity Sea-Eye from entering Italian waters after saving 40 migrants near Libya.
The European Commission yesterday said France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and the Italian Catholic church would care for the migrants.
Ireland said it had agreed to take in two of the passengers.
A commission official said most of the migrants would stay in Italy.
Pope Francis on Sunday called for the EU to “act swiftly” to save lives.
“I am renewing my call that the international community act swiftly and decisively to avoid that such tragedies repeat themselves and guarantee the safety and dignity of all,” the pontiff told St Peter’s Square.
Around 140 migrants, who set off from Libya on two boats, were rescued by Italian patrols and transferred to the coastguard’s Bruno Gregoretti.
At least 115 migrants were feared drowned in a separate shipwreck off Libya on the same day, this year’s deadliest tragedy in the Mediterranean, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
The Bruno Gregoretti has already allowed a seven-month pregnant woman, her partner and two children and 15 minors to leave the boat.
Salvini said the remaining migrants would only be able to disembark when other EU countries agreed to take them.
French President Emmanuel Macron said last week that 14 EU member states had approved a plan to redistribute migrants arriving via the Mediterranean and eight said they would play an active role. Populist-run central European states like Poland and Hungary have opposed any EU-wide attempts to share the migrant burden.
“A European solution has been found for the women and men stranded on the ship Gregoretti,” Macron tweeted yesterday.
“They will disembark in Italy, then be welcomed in six countries, including France. Our country is true to its principles: responsibility, solidarity and European cooperation.”
Bruno Gregoretti. Picture credit: Wikimedia