Veterinarians are allowed to leave: A case study in Catania for the SOS Humanity 1 and a charity ship operated by Doctors Without Borders
The four ships that have rescued migrants at sea in distress and are being refused safe port are only allowing vulnerable people to disembark.
On Sunday, Italy ordered the Humanity 1 to vacate the port of Catania after disembarking 144 rescued migrants, including with children, more than 100 unaccompanied minors and people with medical emergencies.
After being saved at sea, all of the passengers of Doctors Without Borders should have a safe port under international law. SOS Humanity said it plans to file a civil case in Catania to ensure that all 35 survivors on board have access to formal asylum procedures on land.
Later Sunday, a second charity ship arrived in Catania, and the vetting process was being repeated with the 572 migrants aboard the Geo Barents ship operated by Doctors Without Borders. The selection was completed by late evening, with 357 allowed off but 215 people blocked on board.
People were the first to leave the ship. One man holding a baby expressed his gratitude, saying “Thank you, Geo Barents,” as he left. Another man in a wheelchair was carried down the street.
Human Rights Action in Sicily: The Rise Above, Ocean Viking and the Soumahoro Appeal to the Italy Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi
Humanitarian groups, human rights activists and two Italian lawmakers who traveled to Sicily protested the selection process as illegal and inhumane. Italy’s new Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi is targeting non-governmental organizations, which Italy has long accused of encouraging people trafficking in the central Mediterranean Sea. The groups deny the claim.
“Free all the people, free them,” Italian lawmaker Aboubakar Soumahoro said in an emotional appeal directed at Meloni from the Humanity 1 rescue ship.
The passengers have faced trauma, they have faced “everything that we can define as a long period of suffering,” said Soumahoro, who spent the night on the ship.
Later at the port, he accused Meloni of playing politics at the expense of “newborns, of women, of people who have suffered traumas of all kinds,” including torture in Libyan prisons.
Many of the migrants were uneducated and unable to speak their native languages, so neither psychologists nor translator were on hand during Italy’s selection process.
The fault is on them to speak another language. Their fault is to have another color,” Soumahoro said, accusing the Italian government of using the migrants to distract from other issues, including high energy prices.
Doctors in Italy identified people needing urgent medical care after the ship’s doctor refused to make a choice, according to Wasil Schauseil. Thirty-six people were declared non-vulnerable and were not permitted to disembark, prompting one to collapse and be taken away by an ambulance.
Doctors Without Borders stressed that a rescue operation is still considered complete when all the survivors are out of harms way.
The two other charity ships carrying rescued migrants remained stuck at sea, with people sleeping on the floors and decks and spreading respiratory infections as food and medical supplies drew low.
The Rise Above, carrying 93 people who were rescued at sea, wanted to get a better position in the water east of Sicily due to the weather, but Hermine Poschmann said the crew had not received any communication from Italian authorities.
After Italy’s new right-wing government refused to allow the Ocean Viking to dock in their country, France allowed it to dock in the port of Toulon. The boat was out in the water for more than two weeks as health and sanitary conditions went downhill for the people on board.
“Agitation is evident among the survivors,” a charity worker named Morgane told The Associated Press on Sunday. The ship was tossed through the night by high waves.
“Today, the weather considerably deteriorated, bringing strong winds, rough seas and rain on deck. … these extreme conditions added suffering,” she said.
The French Ocean Viking ship has not accepted any asylum seekers: A further example in the EU’s erratic handling of migrants coming from Africa and Libya
The law of the sea obligates non NGOs to help people in distress and requires coastal nations to provide safe ports as soon as possible, they say.
Europe does have a way to help countries like Italy on the front lines of migration. In what’s known as a “solidarity mechanism,” France and 19 other European nations have voluntarily committed to taking a certain quota of the thousands of migrants who arrive in Italy by sea.
PARIS — As a ship carrying more than 200 migrants rescued at sea docked in a French port on Friday, a diplomatic crisis between France and Italy worsened, signaling further chaos in the European Union’s already erratic handling of asylum seekers coming to Europe.
In a statement, French group SOS Mediterranée, which operates the ship, called the incident “a dramatic failure from all the European states, which have violated maritime law in an unprecedented manner.”
According to an immigration specialist with the French Institute of International Relations, international law mandates that survivors of search and rescue operations should be transported to the safest sea harbor. “This is why it’s always Italy and not France, when it comes to people coming from Africa and Libya,” he says.
Italy’s new prime minister Giorgia Meloni put France on the spot this week by thanking the French government for accepting the Ocean Viking, when it had not yet done so.
The Italian government was shocked by France’s reaction. The French reaction to taking in 234 migrants, when Italy took in more than 90,000, is incomprehensible according to Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.
Darmanin called France’s acceptance of the migrants Friday an “exceptional” decision that would not guide further action. He said France will put a hold on its pledge to relocate some 3,500 migrants from Italy over the next year.
Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said that by not allowing the Ocean Viking dock, Italy sent a message to EU countries that they need to take in more migrants who arrive on Italian shores.
He said it’s been an ongoing discussion for the last 7 or eight years about how we can better divide the migrants in the EU. “And you have some member states — mostly Hungary and Poland — who have refused to receive any migrants or asylum seekers.”
Europe is becoming increasingly jittery about immigration from Africa and the Middle East, at a time when the diplomatic feud between Paris and Rome is still going strong. The conditions forcing people to flee their countries are getting worse and the situation in Syria is currently the worst in the world, according to Human Rights Watch.
Sunderland warns the number could rise. What’s really needed, she says, “is a predictable system for the disembarkation and relocation of migrants, where they will be treated properly, their rights will be respected and their asylum claims will be taken and assessed.”
The Italian Coast Guard said at least 43 migrants perished when their overcrowded wooden boat smashed into rocky reefs just off southern Italy.
“As of now, 80% of the people that were recovered alive and some of those who succeeded in reaching the shore after the Wreck are located,” the Coast Guard said in a statement just before noon.
The wake of a far-right leader in the Mediterranean: a rescue mission for a missing boy on the coast of Sicily in pursuit of asylum seekers
The live of men, women and children should not be exchanged for a fake hope of a safe voyage according to a far-right leader.
The leader of the group vowed to use her power to press for tougher punishments for human traffickers in Europe and to get help for Italy.
A chunk of the boat and piles of splintered wood were found on a beach at Steccato di Cutro, along the Ionian sea. Some of the survivors tried to keep warm by wrapping their blankets in colorful sheets.
The boy’s body was recovered from the rough seas by a Coast Guard motorboat after two men were rescued from the cold. Firefighter boats, including rescue divers, recovered 28 bodies, including three pulled by a strong current far away from the wreckage.
Francis told the faithful in St. Peter’s Square: “I pray for each of them, for the missing and the other migrants who survived.” The Pontiff was praying for the rescuers and for those who welcomed the migrants.
It was also not clear where the boat had set out from, but migrant vessels arriving in Calabria usually depart from Turkish or Egyptian shores. Many of these boats, including sailboats, can reach remote stretches of Italy’s long southern coastline by using the coast guard or humanitarian rescue vessels.
The majority of the migrants leaving from Libya are fleeing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa or in other Asian countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan in order to have their asylum requests denied by the Italian authorities.