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Sicily: First hunger strike, then salvation: migrants are allowed on land

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Cheers on two rescue ships in the port of Catania on Tuesday evening – almost 250 migrants are finally allowed to disembark. However, the long service is not over for a ship.

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After two days of fear, the crews of the civil sea rescue ships “Humanity 1” and “Geo Barents” were allowed to send almost 250 migrants taken in the Mediterranean Sea ashore in Sicily.

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The relief organizations were great. “The absolutely unfounded wait is finally over,” said Till Rummenhohl from the German association SOS Humanity after 35 people disembarked in the port of Catania. When MSF volunteers said goodbye to the 213 people off their ship and announced “rescue complete,” the crew applauded themselves.

This ended late on Tuesday evening a showdown between private helpers and the new, right-wing government in Rome, which wants to take much tougher action against migrants than its political predecessors. According to a decree by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, the almost 250 adult men on the two ships were sorted out at the weekend and were not allowed to go ashore.

“Our work is not over”

Unlike hundreds of other refugees, they should be brought back to international waters. “Because Italian authorities were of the opinion that they were not sick enough to enter the European Union,” criticized Rummenhohl, head of operations for “Humanity 1”, in an interview with the German Press Agency.

After new examinations by doctors and psychologists, the Catania health department decided on Tuesday evening that the migrants were allowed to disembark. “Fortunately, we stood up for these people and fought for their rights,” said Rummenhohl.

The helpers do not want to be intimidated by the hardships and legal difficulties and want to set sail again. “Our work is not over, even if the Italian authorities consider that our work is illegal. It is a duty, it is a human duty, it is a legal duty. We will continue to ensure that it stays that way .” Rummenhohl also thanked the Italian population for a lot of solidarity “from Canada to Australia and especially here in Italy”.

“Ocean Viking” was not welcome in Italy

Unlike the “Humanity 1”, the “Geo Barents” and another German ship called “Rise Above”, which was allowed to bring 89 migrants to Reggio Calabria, the “Ocean Viking” was not welcome in southern Italy. The SOS Méditerranée ship therefore set course for France in the hope of being able to call at a port in Corsica. The organization spoke of a “critical and dramatic failure of all European countries” because some migrants had to stay on the ship for more than two weeks.

Italy’s government had recently been asked by the European Union, UN organizations and the federal government to give in. The new, ultra-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni defended her anti-immigrant course and thanked France for opening ports there for the “Ocean Viking” and the people on board the ship. She wants to make other European countries more responsible for accepting migrants in the future.

Source: Stern

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