Rome, Nov 7 (EFE).- German NGO SOS Humanity has refused to leave the port of Catania in Sicily until all 179 migrants rescued by its ship Humanity 1 are permitted to disembark.
The stand-off comes following the decision by Italian authorities to deny access to 35 migrants following medical checks.
“We will never leave the port as long as there is one person aboard our vessel, which has the right of international protection, which has the right to reach safe land,” said Till Rummenhohl, the NGO’s head of operations, in a video press release.
The move comes after the Italian government of the new right-wing prime minister Giorgia Meloni signed a bill last Friday to disembark only the most vulnerable migrants aboard rescue ships.
On Sunday, the captain of Humanity 1, Joachim Ebeling, decided to ignore the local authorities’ instructions to return to international waters with the 35 migrants who were not found eligible to disembark
“I cannot leave the port until all survivors rescued from distress at sea have disembarked,” said Ebeling.
The NGO has also announced in a statement that they are to “initiate a fast-track proceeding in front of the civil court in Catania to ensure that the right of the protection seekers on board the Humanity 1 is guaranteed to access a formal asylum procedure on land as a matter of urgency.”
Another selective disembarkation was carried out on Sunday night from the Geo Barents ship, operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) which was left with 215 migrants on board while 357, mostly women and children, were allowed to disembark onto Italian soil.
There are still two NGO ships waiting to be allowed to disembark on the Sicilian port, the Rise Above, of the German Mission Lifeline, with 89 rescued, and the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, of SOS Méditerranée with another 234 migrants. EFE