The two lifeships that rescued hundreds of migrants from the Mediterranean last weekend have been given permission to dock in Italy. This afternoon, the German ship sea-watch 3 built at the port of Trapani, in western Sicily. The Ocean Viking of the French aid organization SOS Méditerranée will follow tomorrow. It is allowed to dock in the eastern port town of Pozzallo on the Italian island.
The Sea-Watch 3 had 257 migrants on board. Among them were seventy minors, some traveled without parents. On board the Ocean Viking there are 549 migrants.
The hundreds of refugees were rescued in six different relief actions last week, including last weekend.
Then some 450 migrants were taken aboard after being rescued from a multi-storey wooden boat:
So after a few days of bobbing at sea, both ships have now been given permission to dock in Italian port cities. According to Sea-Watch 3 rescue workers, this happened after the Mediterranean weather conditions deteriorated.
The number of migrants trying to reach Europe from North African countries has increased considerably over the past year. The UN Migration Organization (IOM) figured last month that nearly 76,000 people attempted in the first half of this year, almost 60 percent more than a year ago.
Many migrants try to enter Europe through Italy, including the island of Lampedusa. According to the local authorities, the number of migrants who reached the Italian coast in May and June of this year has more than tripled compared to last year.
Change of course
The distribution of migrants across EU countries has been a hot hangover in European politics for years. This week, the Italian government has once again called on the EU to take over some of the thousands of asylum seekers who have entered the country in recent months. The Interior Minister would have insisted for an “urgent” change in the EUs migration policy.
Meanwhile, the migration issue also divides Italian politics. Right-wing populist leader Matteo Salvini, who has been fighting against immigration with his party Lega for years, wants Prime Minister Mario Draghi to act harder to stop the flow of migrants.