For two weeks 88 migrants waited on the rescue ship “Alan Kurdi”. Now Germany, France, Portugal and Ireland have agreed to accept them.
After a blockade of the sea rescue ship Alan Kurdi of the German aid organisation Sea-Eye by Italy for days, an agreement on the distribution of the 88 rescued refugees onboard has been found. According to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, Germany and France would receive 60 migrants. Portugal had agreed to take in five refugees, and Ireland had taken in two of them. Alan Kurdi, who lies off the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, is now to call at the port of the southern Italian city of Taranto.
On Saturday last week, the rescue vessel rescued the refugees from the Mediterranean and, according to its statements, had been threatened by Libyan forces. Libyan patrol boats had fired shots into the air and water, the organisation criticised. Alan Kurdi was then detained for days in front of Lampedusa. On Friday morning she finally sailed into Italian territorial waters. Captain Bärbel Beuse justified this with the fact that the situation on board was “tense” and food supplies were running out.
On Friday a solution was also found for 15 asylum seekers who had been rescued this week by the ship Open Arms from the Mediterranean. As the Spanish aid organisation Proactiva Open Arms twittered, the refugees were allowed to board a boat to bring them to the Maltese capital Valletta. However, the permit was only granted “with many hours delay, in the middle of a storm and after a long wait for the instructions of the Maltese authorities”.
Already on Wednesday, more than a hundred refugees had been allowed to leave the rescue ship Ocean Viking in the Italian port of Pozzalo after almost two weeks at sea. Germany, France and Italy had previously reached an agreement on the reception of the people.
“We are not confronted with an invasion.”
The reception and distribution of migrants reclaimed in the Mediterranean has been a source of controversy in Europe for some time. At the end of September, the interior ministers of Germany, France, Italy and Malta agreed on a provisional distribution mechanism. According to the mechanism, refugees rescued from distress at sea will be distributed to the participating EU member states within four weeks. This should be an interim solution until the current asylum system of the EU, the so-called Dublin procedure, can be revised. Besides, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) has called for a code of conduct for sea rescue ships flying the German flag.
When Matteo Salvini of the right-wing extremist Lega was still Italian Minister of the Interior, the country had closed its ports to refugee rescue ships. The successor government of the five-star movement and the Social Democrats, which has been in office since September, is following a less restrictive course.
Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese on Friday rejected her predecessor Salvini’s statement that Italy must protect itself from an “invasion” by migrants. “I have no such information,” the non-party minister told the newspaper La Repubblica. “We are not confronted with an invasion.