The tone goes up between Spain and Italy. "What Salvini does about the Open Arms is a shame for humanity," Spanish Socialist Minister Margarita Robles denounced Monday (August 19th), accusing the far-right Italian leader of acting with "exclusively electoral purposes". Matteo Salvini is accused of wanting to profit politically from the hundred migrants massed aboard this ship parked near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
On board for some 18 days, these migrants are likely to break the record of the 32 people who were stuck for 19 days aboard SeaWatch3 before landing in Malta on 9 January.
Faced with the refusal of Rome to welcome these migrants, Madrid had proposed Sunday to the ship to land in Algeciras, in the extreme south of Spain, which the NGO deemed "absolutely unachievable". The Spanish government then proposed the Balearic Islands, closer but still distant a thousand kilometers from Lampedusa.
"Let them find solutions"
An offer nevertheless was deemed "incomprehensible" by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms. "While our boat is 800 m from the coast of Lampedusa, European states are asking a small NGO like ours to face (...) three days of sailing in harsh weather conditions."
In an interview with the Spanish media eldiario.es, the founder of the NGO, Oscar Camps, suggested that Madrid send a boat to pick up the migrants or transfer them by plane to Spain.
The executive of the Socialist Pedro Sanchez assured Monday not to have received a "clear and direct answer" from the NGO on the Balearic Islands. "It's not about accepting or not accepting," said a spokeswoman for Open Arms. "The answer we gave them is that we can not guarantee the safety of these people on our boat, since Italy and Spain have assumed responsibility for these people, that they find solutions," he said. she added.
On Monday around 11 pm (9 pm GMT), the organization's spokesperson told AFP by telephone that "the evacuation to Lampedusa of eight people in need of an urgent assistant" had just been authorized by the coast guards. These migrants suffered from injuries or infections and "for the majority, post-traumatic stress generating panic attacks or anxiety," she said.
Spain and five other member states of the European Union (France, Germany, Romania, Portugal and Luxembourg) have agreed this week to divide people rescued by the Open Arms. This agreement remains valid, said the Spanish government. On Sunday, the French Ministry of the Interior announced that France was ready to welcome 40 migrants on board.
The new confrontation on the migration issue is taking place in full political crisis in Rome. "Why the Open Arms do not go to Spain In 18 days, they could have gone and come back three times from Ibiza and Formentera.They are fighting a political battle," he accused Monday on Twitter.
#Salvini: perched #OpenArms not going in Spain? In 18 giorni andavano e tornavano da Ibiza e Formentera 3 volts, questa per loro a una battaglia politica. #radioanchioMatteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) August 19, 2019