They are in a fragile state, they are shipwrecked and desperate. The odyssey of a thousand migrants is not over. This Monday due to the decision of the far-right government Giorgia Meloni to authorize the landing in Catania, Sicily, only of pregnant women, children and “vulnerable” people.
Three jumped into the sea from the humanitarian ship “Geo Barents” docked in the Sicilian port in a gesture of despair after a night without water, without access to bathrooms and waiting to get out of legal limbo in which they are. Saved by the security forces, they were made available to the authorities, who avoid all contact with the press.
“But they are all vulnerable. The castaway is vulnerable in principle. They have lived through the horror. they are traumatized“, summed up Riccardo Gatti, responsible for the Relief and Search of the NGO Doctors Without Borders in charge of the “Geo Barents”.
What has happened to the migrants?
After the ship spent days at sea, authorities on Sunday allowed it to dock and let 357 people considered “vulnerable” off the ship, but 214 more people remained on board. “Psychological stress is serious, high”Gatti said, lamenting the new Italian provision that allows the “selective” disembarkation of migrants fleeing poverty and war from Africa and Asia and the forces the rest of the rescued to be sent back to the high seas.
A “selection” of people that is inhuman and ruthless, as left-wing senator Antonio Nicita, of the Democratic Party, denounced in statements to the press. After a controversial inspection, several hundred pregnant women, children and people considered fragile were allowed to leave the ship on Sunday.
“I think that the concept of fragility should be given the feeling it deserves (…) This interpretation of international standards is outside the norm,” Gatti protested. The situation is tense. Nervousness reigns inside the ships, the activists try to calm things down, because “there is a lot of suffering,” Nicita lamented after getting off the ship. “Many people undressed in front of us to show us the scabies infection in their private parts”said the legislator, explaining that they probably avoid talking about contagion because they fear that they will never be allowed to enter Europe.
War on NGOs
The situation may worsen, since three other ships with more than 800 rescued immigrants weeks ago at sea they continue to wait for the green light to enter a safe port from Greece, Spain, Malta or Italy. Among them, the “Ocean Viking”, of SOS Méditerranée, with another 234 immigrants on board, with 55 minors, which remains in international waters, a few miles from the port of Catania.
“They were rescued 20 days ago at sea and had been adrift for several days. They are desperate. They tell horrors of what they experienced,” Francesco Creazzo, press officer for SOS Mediterranée, told AFP. The idea of subjecting migrants to an “inspection” to verify if they can disembark has been rejected by the person in charge of Doctors without borderswho refuses to leave with 34 migrants considered unsuitable.
“A legal team is studying the steps to follow,” he explained. The new immigration policy of the far-right government in power since the end of October targeted the NGOs that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean, since considers their vessels as “pirate ships”.
Only two boats out of four have been able to disembark
Of the NGO boats that have asked to dock in a safe port, two were able to disembark; the Humanity1 with 179 people, of which 155 disembarked; and the Geo Barents, of Doctors without borders, with 572 rescued of those who evacuated 357. The German “Rise Above”, with 93; and the “Ocean Viking”, with 234, they await response.
Meanwhile, the Meloni government maintains its duel with humanitarian organizations following the same policy of closed ports that was promoted between 2018 and 2019 by the then far-right Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, current Vice President and Minister of Infrastructure.
This Monday, a score of NGOs launched an “urgent” call to facilitate a landing. The text signed by organizations such as Oxfam France, Emmaus International, Médecins Sans Frontières and Human Rights Watch, among others, “urges Italy, Malta, the European States and the European Commission to facilitate the immediate disembarkation, in a safe place, of all rescued people who are currently blocked.
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Travelers: Desperation among rescued migrants waiting to disembark in Italy