Stuck for 18 days at sea, the humanitarian ship Open Arms still has no authorization to land in Italy
Shame for humanity”: the Spanish Minister of Defense has condemned the Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini. The latter is accused of wanting to profit politically from the hundred migrants massed aboard the ship Open Arms, which Madrid has proposed to land in the Balearic Islands.
However, this offer was deemed “incomprehensible” by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, which highlighted the risks of travelling thousands of kilometres between the Italian island of Lampedusa, near which the boat is parked, and the archipelago. Balearic Spanish, “in adverse climatic conditions”.
Onboard for 18 days
Onboard for some 18 days, these migrants are likely to break the record of 32 people who were stuck for 19 days aboard SeaWatch3 before landing in Malta on January 9th.
“What Salvini does about the Open Arms is a shame for humanity,” Spanish Socialist Defense Minister Margarita Robles denounced, accusing the far-right Italian leader of acting with exclusively for electoral purposes “.
Faced with Rome’s refusal to accept these migrants, Madrid ended up proposing 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 kilometres from Lampedusa.
“Our boat is 800 m from the coast of Lampedusa”
But Open Arms on Monday ruled this “totally incomprehensible decision.” “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,” the Spanish organization added. a statement.
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.
Eight authorized evacuations
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, they find solutions, “she added.
On Monday around 23:00 (21:00 GMT) the spokesperson of the organization told AFP by telephone that “the evacuation to Lampedusa of eight people requiring an urgent assistant” had just been authorized by the coast guards.
These migrants suffered from injuries or infections and “for the most part, post-traumatic stress generating panic attacks or anxiety,” she said.
But the NGO continues to demand the immediate disembarkation in Lampedusa of all the migrants remaining on board.
The European Commission welcomed “the goodwill of Spain” but called on “all member states and NGOs to work together and find a solution that works and allows people to land onboard the Open Arms as soon as possible. ”
An agreement between European countries plans to divide immediately after landing these migrants between France, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania and Spain.
The new confrontation on the migration issue is taking place in the full political crisis in Rome.
Salvini reluctantly agreed on Saturday to let 27 unaccompanied migrant minors land.
“Why is the Open Arms not going 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 said on Twitter on Monday.
Despite the closure of Lampedusa at the Open Arms, migrants continue to arrive on the Italian coast. According to the Interior Ministry, for the last 18 days, 479 migrants have landed in Italy, including more than a hundred in Lampedusa.