The Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms was heading to Lampedusa on Wednesday evening with 147 migrants on board, after a court decision suspending a decree issued by Minister Matteo Salvini banning Italian territorial waters.
The NGO Proactiva Open Arms, however, assured that it did not intend to dock by force, as had the Sea-Watch3 end of June.
It has immediate shelter from bad weather: the Open Arms like the Ocean Viking, the ship of SOS Mediterranean and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) which also seeks a port for more than 350 migrants, broadcast on Wednesday. videos showing hollows up to 2.5 meters that shake boats and their passengers.
Nevertheless, Mr Salvini announced an "urgent" appeal against the decision, and signed a new decree, on the grounds that the behavior of the Open Arms since the first decree demonstrated his "political objective of bringing (the migrants) into Italy".
"We won the appeal that we presented in an administrative court in Italy," Oscar Camps, founder of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, told a press conference in Madrid.
"The only thing missing is that we are assigned a port," he said.
After a total of three relief operations in the last 12 days and a series of medical evacuations, the Open Arms now has 147 migrants on board, including nearly thirty miners.
Malta only accepted part of it - those rescued in its area of competence - and the NGO refused the transfer out of fear of the reaction of those who should remain on board.
In an interview Wednesday morning on Spanish radio Cadena Ser, Camps highlighted the risks of violence between exhausted and stressed migrants.
According to him, the 19 crew members of the Open Arms are finding it increasingly difficult to manage the tensions caused by the promiscuity, the uncertainty and the state of "very high post-traumatic stress" of migrants.
- International maritime law -
"Imagine that there are two sinks and 180 m2 sheltered.There are quarrels for a shady corner, for a sunny spot, food quarrels, quarrels for the tail at the sink", he recounted.
In Paris, the President of the Republic assured that France was "active", "in connection with the European Commission", to find a solution for the 500 or so migrants of the two ships, while recalling its two principles: landing in " the nearest safe harbor "then distribution of migrants.
Mr Salvini, who is demanding a rotation in the ports of landing, had signed a decree prohibiting, in the name of the defense of public order, the Italian waters at the Open Arms in early August, just after the rescue of the first migrants.
In case of infringement, the NGO could be fined up to one million euros and the confiscation of the ship. Until the court decision on Friday.
"This is a success: international maritime law prevails," Camps said after the suspension of the decree. According to the Italian press, the court recognized "an excess of power" and a violation of international law on rescue at sea.
"But what a strange country," Mr Salvini taunted at a meeting on a beach in Liguria (north-west). "The administrative court of Latium (Rome region) wants to give permission to land in Italy to a foreign ship loaded with foreign immigrants".
After scuttling its alliance with the M5S by demanding elections in October, Mr. Salvini, the strongman of the government with 36 to 38% of voting intentions, faces an attempt against him between the M5S and the Democratic Party (center left).
In this context, the migratory issue is explosive: Wednesday morning, the DP asked the head of government Giuseppe Conte to disembark as soon as possible the migrants of the Open Arms.
Mr Salvini immediately denounced "an attempt to turn back, to start opening the Italian ports and to make Italy the refugee camp of Europe".
© 2019 AFP