In Italy, after the change of government, a new refugee policy is emerging: 82 migrants have been picked up by the Italian Coast Guard and brought ashore, as the crew of the rescue vessel Ocean Viking announced . Already on Saturday, the authorities in Rome had promised the ship after days of waiting a safe haven. It was the first time in 14 months that Italy assigned a safe haven to a refugee rescue vessel. According to French sources, the 82 refugees are now to be distributed to five European countries, including Germany.
📌UPDATE: The transfer to an Italian Coast Guard ship to bring the 82 people aboard the #OceanViking to Lampedusa has begun. The @SOSMedIntl and @MSF_Sea teams are relieved that the men, women and children have finally reached a safe place. pic.twitter.com/TXkQLaWRTu- SOS MEDITERRANEE GER (@SOSMedGermany) September 14, 2019
The relief organization SOS Méditerranée, which operates the rescue ship, reacted with relief. "Assigning a safe place that qualifies as such is good news," said Ocean Viking mission coordinator Nicola Stalla. "But we have to wait several days or even weeks to tolerate." SOS Méditerranée called on the EU to create a "coordinated, joint and sustainable disembarkation mechanism" for people rescued in the Mediterranean.
At the end of September EU ministers want to discuss refugees
The Ocean Viking had been looking for a safe haven for almost a week to land the people rescued off the Libyan coast. The rescue ship had left at the beginning of September for its second mission in the Mediterranean. In August, the crew had already rescued 356 people off the Libyan coast from the Mediterranean Sea, who were later allowed to land in Malta.
The permission for the Ocean Viking to head for the port of Lampedusa could be a symbolic departure from the restrictive refugee policies of the recently failed five-star populist government and right-wing Lega government coalition. The new government of Social Democrats and Five-Star Movement under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had promised a "new humanism" without, however, until now specifying what a new migration policy might look like.
Germany wants to take Italy every fourth refugee
Above all, the government wants to negotiate a system for the automatic distribution of refugees rescued in the Mediterranean to other EU states. On September 23, several EU interior ministers want to discuss it at a meeting in Malta, and in early October the EU Council of Ministers will meet in Luxembourg.
Italy's ex-Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who had banned rescue ships from entering Italian ports, condemned the decision. "The new government opens the ports again, Italy is again the refugee camp of Europe," he wrote on Twitter.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) said over the weekend that Germany was prepared to take in every fourth refugee rescued in Italy after a rescue mission. "I've always said that our migration policy is also humane and we will not let anyone drown," Seehofer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung . It was high time to say goodbye to the "tormenting procedure" during which, in the past few years, refugees had to be distributed individually across Europe for each incoming rescue vessel before Italy.