A charity ship carrying nearly 100 people rescued from the Mediterranean issued an ultimatum to Italy on Wednesday, warning it would dock without authorization if it was not assigned a port within hours.
“Things are very simple: either we are assigned a port of disembarkation without delay... or as soon as we reach the Sicilian coast, we will enter the first accessible port,” the Italian NGO Mediterranea said.
The charity, which owns the Mare Jonio rescue ship, said Italy’s interior minister “has 10 hours,” setting the clock ticking in a statement to the press at 0900 GMT.
The vessel is carrying 92 people rescued in two operations on June 5 and 6 in international waters around Libya and Malta, including some 30 unaccompanied minors.
At 17.45 the #MareJonio entered Italian territorial waters. Weather conditions are deteriorating. We need a #PortOfSafety for the 92 people rescued on board.— Mediterranea Saving Humans (@RescueMed) June 8, 2022
We demand respect for international law! No more useless suffering for the shipwrecked!@Palazzo_Chigi @Viminale @mims_gov pic.twitter.com/91Rn8zsvm9
It first requested a port on Tuesday, but was told Rome’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was waiting for a response from the ministry.
“We are on our way to Sicily,” a spokesman for the NGO told AFP at four pm (1400 GMT), adding that the ministry “has not yet responded.”
Charities have accused the government of deliberately being slow to assign ports to their rescue vessels in a bid to dissuade people from attempting the dangerous crossing from north Africa.
Fellow German charity Sea Watch said Wednesday its vessel Sea Watch 3 was also still waiting for a port after four days, and the 352 people on board – including many minors – were “exhausted.”
SOS Mediterranee, which has rescued nearly 1,000 migrants since the beginning of the year, called earlier for the urgent adoption of a European solidarity mechanism to avoid such delays.
Its Ocean Viking vessel rescued some 300 people, including a three-month-old baby and six pregnant women, on its last mission in May, but had to wait up to 10 days to enter a safe port.
Some 17,000 people have crossed the central Mediterranean – considered the world’s most dangerous migrant crossing – since the start of the year, according to Italy’s interior ministry.
One dead off Cyprus as more than 40 Syrian migrants arriveCypriot police said the body of a man was retrieved off the Mediterranean island’s western coast Thursday after newly arrived migrants said one among ... Middle East
Greece blocked 40,000 migrants at Evros this year: GovernmentGreece said Saturday some 40,000 illegal migrants had been blocked from entering the country along the northern border with Turkey since the beginning ... World News
Three migrants dead, 10 missing as boat capsizes off TunisiaThree people were found dead and another 10 went missing after their boat capsized off Tunisia during an attempt to reach Europe, the country’s coast ... North Africa
Spain rescues 57 migrants at sea but more are reported missingSpanish emergency services said Tuesday they rescued 57 sub-Saharan migrants on an inflatable boat making its way to the Canary Islands, a day after ... World News