The Italian administrative court of the Lazio region has allowed the rescue vessel Open Arms due to an emergency to drive into the territorial waters of Italy. Among other things, the court approved the entry into the waters on the basis of medical and psychological reports, so that the rescued persons on board could be helped immediately, the news agency Ansa reported on Wednesday evening, citing the court. Thus, the judges lifted a ban imposed by the government. The Italian Ministry of the Interior announced that it would challenge the decision.
Shortly before, Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini had said at a show that he wanted to continue to prevent the retraction of the ship. Salvini admitted that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had asked him to let people go ashore on the "Open Arms". He did not see why they should be allowed to do so, according to Salvini. It concerns "foreign ships of foreign organizations in international waters", so the deputy head of government.
The ship had taken in the Mediterranean almost two weeks ago 121 people and on Saturday 39 more. Among them are also 30 children. The ship spent several days in international waters near the Italian island of Lampedusa. According to the Maritime Savior should raise bad weather on Wednesday. The crew of the "Open Arms" had therefore called the Administrative Court on Tuesday.
In the past few days at sea, there had been increasing tension on board the rescue vessel because of the supply situation on board and lack of prospects for a safe haven. The 19-member squad has tried to prevent blows, the founder of the Spanish organization Proactiva Open Arms , Oscar Camps, quoted. According to him, the nearly 150 people have to share two washrooms and wait for just 180 square meters. There is therefore a dispute over a place in the shade or in the sun, because of food or because of the queue in front of the washroom. The nerves of the people on board are so strained that a dispute with serious injuries or even a violent death could no longer be ruled out.
Tensions on board are getting worse
Camps also recalled that the rescued suffered from post-traumatic stress and anxiety. "One has to remember that on their way to Europe they were subjected to torture, violence, abuse of all kinds and slavery," he said. They also could not call their relatives to tell them that they are alive. That creates additional anxiety. The worse weather adds to the tension. Many people are seasick and have to vomit, Camps said. Some also started a hunger strike.
According to the current ruling, the intention is now to head to the nearest safe haven to bring the 147 people on board for 13 days to safety, the relief organization said. The destination is first Lampedusa, because the ship is anyway in front of the Italian island.
Apart from Italy, Malta, the second nearest European country, had refused to enter its ports. After all: Malta had allowed eight people - two women and their family members - to go ashore for medical reasons. Both Italy and Malta require that other EU states give advance confirmation of the admission of migrants.
Not only the situation aboard the Open Arms is disastrous. The Ocean Viking , the rescue vessel of the aid organizations SOS Méditerranée and Doctors Without Borders, is also looking for a port with 356 people on board. The ship was also on Wednesday morning south between Lampedusa and Malta. Also for this ship, the Italian Prime Minister Conte von Salvini had requested a permit to go ashore in Italy.