Two rescue ships with a total of more than 160 migrants on board are looking for a safe haven to call at. The Spanish aid organization Proactiva Open Arms is traveling with 123 migrants on the Mediterranean Sea. A woman is nine months pregnant and in labor, tweeted NGO boss Oscar Camps. The Alan Kurdi of the German organization Sea-Eye was still waiting on Friday with 40 migrants off the Italian island of Lampedusa and was not allowed to dock.
The Alan Kurdi had rescued the people in the middle of the week and set course for Italy. But the country continued to be tough. The Italian Coastguard Operations Headquarters had now told Sea-Eye that the Maltese authorities were responsible, "even though the vessel is just off Lampedusa," the Regensburg organization tweeted. "Malta is more than 20 hours away, an unbearable quarrel is being fought on the backs of the refugees." Italy's right-wing interior minister Matteo Salvini has already banned the ship's entry and threatened to confiscate it should it land in Italy.
"Open Arms" saves 68 people in one night
The Spanish aid organization Proactiva is also looking for a safe haven. The rescue vessel Open Arms had rescued another 68 migrants off the Libyan coast on Friday night, Camps said. The ship now has 123 people on board, after 55 people mostly from Eritrea were rescued from a leak hit boat on Thursday. In addition to pregnant women, nine-month-old twins are on board. The migrants taken on board at night showed clear signs of violence suffered in Libya, according to Camps.
Italy had also already told this ship that it should not invest. Captain Marc Reig told Spanish television on board that he had turned to all the competent authorities in Libya, Malta and Italy, but did not receive an answer. The ship is flying the Spanish flag.
Soon, a third ship could come to it: The Ocean Viking wants to leave from Marseille and then would take about two days to the rescue area. The ship can accommodate about 200 people.
Salvini accuses federal government of extortion
Italy's populist government since taking office more than a year ago refuses to let NGO ships moor. Rome not only wants migrants to be distributed to other EU countries. The government also insists that the ships do not all dock in Italian ports. The EU has long argued about a distribution mechanism.
Salvini accused the German government of "blackmail". In an e-mail, the German government had suggested that Italy take over 30 migrants from the Italian Coast Guard Gregoretti , when in return the 40 migrants on the German rescue ship Alan Kurdi in Italy should get off, he had said on Thursday.
The Federal Ministry of the Interior did not respond. The ministry said: "It is important to the Federal Government to save people from drowning and to prevent ships from lying in front of the European ports for days or weeks before they can dock." The government therefore agreed in all cases to voluntarily take over from the Mediterranean rescued this year. "Also in the present case of the Gregoretti , an Italian Coast Guard, the Federal Government has volunteered to the European Commission, which coordinates the redistribution of maritime rescuers, to take over the responsibility for carrying out the asylum procedure for some of the rescuers."