Salvini refuses to bend over stranded migrant rescue boat

Salvini refuses to bend over stranded migrant rescue boat

The standoff between a Sea-Watch rescue boat and Italy’s populist government has prompted the European Commission to call for relief for 42 migrants stranded in the Mediterranean.

“We waited one night. We cannot wait another,” the German NGO tweeted yesterday (Thursday), a day after the Sea-Watch 3 entered Italian maritime territory.

“Desperation of people in need is nothing to gamble with.”

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has threatened to impose a substantial fine on the NGO. The boat is currently waiting off the coast of Lampedusa (pictured), Italy’s southernmost island. The Italian coastguard boats has flanked the vessel.

Captain Carola Rackete said she was ready to go to jail to bring the migrants to safety.

Marie Faggianelli, a Sea-Watch France volunteer, said the rescue of drowning migrants was not about politics but a “matter of emergency”.

Some sick migrants left the boat yesterday but Faggianelli said others were also unwell.

Of the 53 migrants rescued by the Sea-Watch 3 off Libya on June 12, Italy has taken 11.

“They are [all] in a psychological state which is really, really hard: they are traumatised, they have been raped, they have been tortured … psychologically they are very broken,” she told the media.

The far-right firebrand Salvini said the migrants could disembark if they headed straight to the Netherlands, where the Sea-Watch 3 is registered, or Germany.

He says the burden of migrant arrivals should be shared across Europe.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Brussels was “closely involved in coordinating with the member states to find a solution for relocating the migrants on board Sea-Watch 3”.

“A solution for people on board is only possible once they are disembarked,” Avramopoulos stated. “I hope that Italy in this particular incident will contribute to a swift resolution for the people on board.”

Salvini’s “closed ports” policy has seen migrants repeatedly stranded at sea.

“I hope that in the coming hours there will be a judge to say that there are outlaws on board this vessel,” Salvini told an Italian broadcaster yesterday.

Salvini says he would deny the migrants registration on arrival and allow them to reach another EU country but the commission has warned this would result in a penalty for Italy.

Salvini this month said fines of €50,000 would be issued to the captain, owner and operator of any ship “entering Italian territorial waters without authorisation”.

Lampedusa. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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