ROME – A rescue ship with 42 migrants floated on Thursday in Italian waters off the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, leading to further tensions between humanitarian groups and the populist Italian government, which has adopted a tough immigration policy.
The Sea Watch 3 is operated by Sea-Watch, a German non-governmental organization, and has a Dutch flag. It has been at sea for two weeks, awaiting instructions for a safe haven to disembark the migrants it has taken up in the international waters off Libya. The ship entered the Italian waters on Wednesday evening.
Although the new Italian legislation prohibits the unauthorized entry of the vessel into a port, the Sea Watch 3 captain has decided to move ahead in an emergency situation. "We are entering Italian territorial waters from an emergency," said Captain Carola Rackete on Wednesday in a radio link with the Port Authorities in Lampedusa.
The Italian government has repeatedly stated that its waters are closed to migrants. The Sea Watch 3 initially rescued 53 people from Libya on 12 June, but three days later Italy allowed 10 of them – including children and two pregnant women – to disembark for medical reasons. Another migrant got off board for health reasons a week later.
The decision of Captain Rackete released the wrath of Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who protested against immigration. "I will not allow foreign NGOs to dictate the law on national borders for a country like Italy," Salvini said in a radio interview on Thursday morning.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said: "The behavior of the commander of The Sea Watch is of unprecedented gravity." He told reporters on the sidelines of the Group 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, that the case "from the political to the legal sphere" Mr Conte added that the diplomatic talks with the Dutch government would continue
But even when the stalemate before Lampedusa dominated the front pages of Italian newspapers on Thursday, migrants landed At dawn, 10 people – including a woman and a minor – arrived at Lampedusa and landed near the Port Authority.
More than 300 migrants – mostly with small boats on the road – are in the Two weeks since the lake landed in southern Italy Watch 3 was in a stalemate with the Itali government.
According to the new laws of Salvini, lifeboats that bring migrants to Italy without permission could be fined up to 50,000 euros.
Italian officials may also accuse the Sea Watch 3 crew of assisting in illegal immigration, a crime committed by a former center-right government that has generally not been used to rescue ships.
Italian financial police boarded the Sea Watch 3 and checked the crew's documents, Captain Rackete said in their Twitter post.
The hard line of the government has sparked some protests. For more than a week, the pastor of Lampedusa, pastor Carmelo La Magra, and several residents and occasional tourists have been sleeping in protest in the churchyard. They are committed to sleeping outdoors until the migrants are allowed to disembark on board the ship in a safe harbor.
This week, the archbishop of Turin, Cesare Nosiglia, informed the Italian government that he would accept the 42 migrants aboard the ship The cost of the Roman Catholic Church, but there was no immediate information as to whether he would have an answer had received.
Haidi Sadik, cultural mediator on Sea Watch 3, said in a statement: "We have people on board who have been scared of Libya, which has been severely tortured.
"Any person who is rescued by law at sea must be taken to a safe place," she added.
After Sea Watch 3 picked up the migrants, the Libyan Sea Coast Guard asked the ship to transport her back to Libya, identifying the capital of the country, Tripoli, as a safe haven. However, many international commentators and organizations claim that there are currently no security conditions in the North African country.
On Thursday morning, Sea-Watch called for the European Union to weigh again.
The organization wrote on Twitter : "Yesterday we were forced into the territorial waters of #Italy. We already had the Coast Guard and customs on board. We have been waiting one night. We can not wait for another. The desperation of those in need is nothing to play with. "