Fifty-eight migrants aboard the #Aquarius NGO rescue vessel will be trasported to Malta and from there to France, Germany, Portugal and Spain, after a deal was reached to share the responsibility for the arrivals among EU member-states.
The migrants will “disembark in international waters”, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted from the UN General Assembly in New York.
However he urged Aquarius vessel to clarify its status. Since February 2016 the vessel operates as major transport for NGO SOS Mediterranée and Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors without borders) to search and rescue illegal migrants from African coasts, mainly Libya, assisting their safe sea crossing to reach European shores.
Panama authorities have begun procedures to revoke the registration of the Aquarius illegal migrants rescue ship operating in the central Mediterranean. Charities say the Italian government is to blame for the move.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said that the NGO migrant search-and-rescue ship Aquarius will not be allowed access to Italy’s ports, ANSA news agency reports.
“Aquarius NGO ship with another 141 immigrants on board: German owned, rented by French NGO, foreign crew, in Maltese waters, flying the flag of Gibraltar,” Salvini wrote in his Twitter microblog.
“It can go where it wants, but not to Italy! Stop human being traffickers and accomplices, #portsclosed and #openhearts”.
Salvini, the leader of the League party, has been promoting the new Italian government’s tough stance on illegal migration which was seen NGO search-and-reascue vessels denied access to Italy’s ports. The Aquarius, rented by the SOS Mediterranee NGO and managed in partnership with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was at the centre of international dispute in June when Italy and Malta both refused to lot it dock.
The unwanted vessel with illegal migrants navigated to Spain with over 600 migrants it rescued next to Libyan coast
Diciotti Italian coast guard vessel arrived in the Sicilian port of Catania with 932 migrants and two bodies on board.
Another rescue ship is waiting off the coast of Libya for instructions on where it should go transport migrants.
The Diciotti was part of seven operations organised by the European Union to pick up migrants from the Mediterranean Sea.
Diciotti has dropped off some migrants in Lampedusa, apparently those who required urgent medical care, including pregnant women and a minor.
The operation take place in the aftermath of the argument between Italy and Malta over NGO #Aquarius vessel, with 600 illegal migrants on board, who wished to disembark in Italy, but were repelled by Italian authorities, in a move to resist illegal mass migration from Africa.
At arrival to port of Valencia (Spain) Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) running the Mediterranean rescue operation on vessel #Aquarius gave press-conference, criticising the EU governments, and vowing to ignore the laws and continue to transport migrants from African coast to Europe.
“The MSF team is determined to continue saving lives, and resist the intimidation of the governments, obsessed by rejection of migrants at all costs”, said Thierry Allafort-Duverger, the MSF Director general in a statement.
In spite of joy of the migrants on #Aquarius, reaching European coasts after being rejected by Italian government, and accepted by Spain, the issue of illegal migration to EU if far from being settled. The new Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini uses the framework of the international law, confirming the sovereign states right to establish jurisdiction over its aquatorium, and fight illegal migration, rejecting vessels from entering their waters.
” I am fed up with this trafficking of human beings and children who die at sea. I’m going to do everything possible that these guys don’t need to escape. In the meantime to block ships of the NGOs that had transformed Italy into a large refugee camp” – Salvini said commenting on the situation during Italian TV show.
The illegal mass-migration from Africa occurred after the overthrow of Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya, destabilizing the entire region. The subsequent failure of the EU to ensure the solidarity of relocation of migrants among member-states caused concentration of migrants in Italy beyond capacity to host all those who continue to arrive.
The EU Commissioner on Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos welcomed the decision of Spanish government to accept the vessel #Aquarius with 629 migrants on board transported from Libyan coasts to Italy. The Italian and Maltese governments repelled #Aquarius, belonging to NGO, which is notorious for exercising the transportation of illegal African migrants to Europe, abusing maritime law of saving lives in seas, and is often dabbed as ‘migrant taxi service‘. Both EU member states – Italy and Malta – have been overwhelmed with migrants flows after the destruction of Libyan state, and have exhausted their capacity of offering shelter. The Spanish Socialist government, profiling itself as Eurocentric, came to rescue of the EU reputation in a gesture of solidarity to relieve the burden from Italy and Malta.
Meanwhile the new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini declared his victory over the EU, imposing respect of the international obligations towards the refugees, but unable to resolve the issue of illegal migrants flooding Italy. The Dublin system application hits hard the Mediterranean members of the bloc, namely Italy, in vain calling for the EU solidarity in relocation of migrants.
“I am not a racist, I am not a fascist…but Italy cannot take it anymore. This is a new beginning“ – Salvini said at his press-conference, commenting on an international raw after the repelling of #Aquarius from Italian coasts. Maltese Prime minister Joseph Muscat thanked Madrid for resolving the problem, however he underlined that a discussion is needed to avoid the repetition of the similar situations in the future.
During the stand off between Italy and Malta both rejecting #Aquarius, there were reports from MSF about the migrants on the board becoming ‘anxious’ about the impossibility to reach Italian coasts. A man blackmailed the crew to drown himself in the sea, if the vessel returns to Libya. Sadly, many of the illegal migrants arriving to Europe refer to the phenomenon as ‘migrant business‘, while experts confirm that nowadays in Africa ‘you are never further than two conversations away from a trafficker, ready to bring you to European coasts’.
Today the European Commission attempted to reduce the tensions around the notorious illegal migrants transport vessel #Aquarius repelled by Italian authorities, to a bilateral issue between Rome and Valletta. Spanish new Prime minister Pedro Sanchez stretched his had to Brussels, saving the EU image, while the solidarity between the member-states on illegal migrants issue is crumbling.
Within the #Aquarius context the were no calls for solidarity with the other EU member states to share the burden of illegal migration flows from Africa Italy suffers since the destruction of Libyan state, which destabilized the entire region. The Institution also declined any responsibility for the situation pointing at an absence of mandate to deal with the issue, belonging to the jurisdictions of the nation-states. It reduced its intervention by launching an appeal to Italy to find a rapid humanitarian response.
The Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini passed to action, rejecting #Aquarius 629 illegal immigrants transported by from Libyan coasts. The decision came after a protracted period of attempts of Italian successive governments to resolve the issue through European solidarity, relocating the migrants, which failed to function. Matteo Salvini, the Interior minister, firmly rejected to follow the line of his predesessor, letting Italy to become one giant ‘European migrant camp’.
“‘Italy has stopped bowing the head and to obey, this time there are those who say NO” – Salvini tweeted, pointing that there is already another NGO ship ‘Sea Watch 3’ under Dutch flag, run by a German NGO, off the coast of Libya to carry another load of immigrants to Italy.
According the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) a state is in is right to establish and practice ‘legislative jurisdiction’ in its sea aquatorium, including to fight the illegal migration (article 19), and also to reject a vessel if there is a suspicion that the passage is ‘not peaceful’ (article 25), which gives Italy additional grounds to reject illegal migrants on suspicion of infiltration of terrorists of Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, and the other terrorist groups, active in Maghrib.
With favorable weather migrants from North African coast continue to arrive to Europe. On Sunday (27/05/2018) 500 passengers of three boats were rescued to be transported in safety to Spain. The Spanish report was preceded by the one from Italy where over the same weekend 1500 migrants were rescued.
The Italian vessels operated by EU border control mission, and NGOs rescued around 1500 migrants in a couple of days during the same week. The reports show the Mediterranean route is actively exploited by traffickers to deliver migrants to European coasts, efficiently using summer period for maximum profit.
The reports from NGOs on migrants rescue in Mediterranean are in stark contrast with the official narrative of the diminishing of the numbers of arrivals. As a reaction on uninterrupted flows of migrants from African coasts, and incapacity of the EU to exercise solidarity in relocation of some of them across Europe, Italian Lega Nord party prepares plans to repatriate around 500 000 migrants, who did not receive a refugee status, or were initially eligible to apply for it.
The refusal of the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to endorse newly formed eurosceptic government the very same weekend, causing the profound political crisis in Italy, will reflect on the situation with illegal migration, protracting the systemic calamity of Italian society, unable to cope with overwhelming multitudes of new arrivals from African coasts.