Italy’s new government allowed a French charity ship to bring ashore 82 migrants last Saturday 14th September in an apparent reversal of the uncompromising, closed-door policy of the previous administration. However, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, who heads the 5-Star Movement in the governing coalition, said the OCEAN VIKING was only being given access to the southern island of Lampedusa because other European states had agreed to take in many of those on board.
The government formally took office on Tuesday, promising a fresh approach to migration following the hardline clampdown on rescue ships introduced by former interior minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday that “several EU countries” had agreed to take in the persons aboard the OCEAN VIKING but did not give further details. The ship is run by French charities SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders.
She rescued the migrants off Libya earlier last week and had asked both Italy and Malta for permission to dock. Recent such requests from other boats had been rejected, leaving migrants stranded at sea for prolonged periods.
“The Government has assigned a safe port to the OCEAN VIKING and the migrants will be welcomed in by many European countries. This is the end of Salvini’s propaganda played out on the backs of desperate people at sea,” said Culture Minister Dario Franceschini.
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