NAfter days of uncertainty, the approximately 250 remaining refugees on board the two rescue ships “Geo Barents” and “Humanity 1″ were able to go ashore in Sicily on Tuesday. This was announced by the aid organizations Doctors Without Borders and SOS Humanity. A third ship, the ” Ocean Viking” with more than 230 people on board, however, was turned away and then asked France for a safe port.
More than 200 people left the “Geo Barents” in the port of Catania on Tuesday, according to Doctors Without Borders. According to the organization SOS Humanity, 35 refugees were also allowed to leave “Humanity 1”, which is also in Catania.
“We are relieved that people can go ashore,” said Till Rummenhohl from SOS Humanity. Like the “Geo Barents”, the “Humanity 1” entered the port of Catania in Sicily on Sunday. The Italian authorities initially only allowed some of the refugees to go ashore.
Meanwhile, the rescue ship “Ocean Viking” with more than 230 refugees rescued from distress on board asked France for help after a fruitless search for a safe port in Italy. “In view of Italy’s silence and the exceptional situation, the ‘Ocean Viking’ has expanded its request for a safe place in France,” said the organization SOS Méditerranée, which operates the ship.
France then spoke of “unacceptable behavior” by the Italian authorities. Their attitude was “against the law of the sea and the spirit of European solidarity,” said government circles in Paris.
Some refugees have been on board for over two weeks
According to their own statements, the sea rescuers had taken a total of 234 people in distress on the “Ocean Viking” in several operations in the search and rescue zones of Libya and Malta in October. Some of the refugees have been on board for more than two weeks.
“It is a humanitarian emergency that requires an immediate response,” said Carl Drexler, Managing Director of SOS Méditerranée in Germany. Some of the survivors have already indicated that they want to jump overboard out of desperation.
The organization expects the ship to arrive near Corsica by November 10, SOS Méditerranée said. “This extreme solution is the result of a dramatic failure by all European states to help find a safe haven.”
Italy’s new government under the ultra-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has announced a restrictive course in dealing with boat people. Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi takes the position that the countries flying the flag of the rescue ships are responsible for the rescued migrants on board.