Rome / Valetta (AP) - In the Mediterranean, with the use of a new rescue ship, the number of recovered boat people has risen again significantly.
Launched for the first time by the aid organizations SOS Méditerranée and Doctors Without Borders, the "Ocean Viking" took 170 migrants from two inflatable boats on board in less than 24 hours. On Sunday, 81 more were added.
The people on board told a helper that they had experienced arbitrary detention, extortion or torture, or had to work under slave-like conditions, as MSF tweeted. "They told me that they were prepared to die in the sea instead of living and suffering another day in Libya." The Ocean Viking now has a total of 251 migrants on board. She will initially stay in the rescue zone off Libya, said a spokeswoman.
The "Open Arms" of a Spanish aid organization, which had survived for over a week with 121 survivors on board, had taken on another 39 people on Saturday before Malta. It is unclear where both ships will bring people. For the two closest European countries - Italy and Malta - have made their harbors for refugee ships largely sealed. And they do not want to head for North Africa.
"Tenth day aboard, a very hot August Sunday. We stand up, we have 160 reasons to do it. 160 people who have the right to land in a safe harbor. Shame Europe », wrote Open Arms on Sunday on Facebook. Open Arms boss Oscar Camps had announced on Saturday, Malta would only let the 39 last rescued land - but not the rest. "That has led to a serious security problem on board. The extent of the oppression of these people is unsustainable, "he tweeted.
The Government of Malta said that the smallest EU country did not feel responsible for the remaining 121. She also wrote that the Maltese forces would have prepared the rescue of the 39 anyway, when the "Open Arms" took them on board. On Sunday, the organization said two migrants were flown to Malta for their state of health, and one more was to be transferred to Italy.
At a press conference held by the Spanish NGO on the Italian island of Lampedusa, US actor Richard Gere criticized Italy's harsh attitude towards migrants. "I love the Italians very much, your generosity and your joie de vivre. And yet I have noticed that something has changed there, "said Gere, who had previously brought food to the" Open Arms ", according to news agency Ansa. Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini countered: "You can take all the migrants to America in your private planes to take care of them in your villas. Thank you."
Italy and Malta repeatedly deny rescue ships the entrance to their ports and insist that other EU countries give advance assurances to take over all incoming migrants. SOS Méditerranée and MSF traveled to Marseille on 4 August for their first mission with the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking from Marseille. On Friday they rescued 85 migrants off the Libyan coast and on Saturday another 85 in the central Mediterranean.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), there are hardly any people seeking protection in Italy. In the current year, there were 4042 until Sunday, in the whole of 2016, there were still 181 436.
The city of Naples hosted Proactiva Open Arms on Saturday, they would like to record the rescued. "It's a long way ... but always remember that the port of Naples is open. The city of Naples is not afraid of 160 people », said Italy's third largest city. But given the harsh attitude of the government in Rome, this has only symbolic character.