Ocean Viking docks at French naval base in Toulon

Paris, Nov 11 (EFE).- The Ocean Viking humanitarian ship docked Friday at the French naval base in Toulon with 230 people on board, after not receiving permission to disembark in Italy.

The passengers, rescued from the sea by the ship of the NGO SOS Mediterraneo, have already begun to disembark, Var department prefect Evence Richard said at a press conference in Toulon.

He said that first there would be an evaluation of the health situation of the migrants, among whom there are 57 children, then they would be taken to a detention center for a maximum of 20 days to study their cases and that those who have the right to request asylum enter an “accelerated procedure.”

On the other hand, in the case of people who do not have the right to request asylum or who may pose a security risk, the procedure will be initiated “so that they return to their countries of origin,” said Eric Jalon, director general of Immigration.

Jalon said there are “already initiated contacts” with some countries so that they take charge of their citizens.

The ship was carrying 234 people rescued from Mediterranean waters, but a French helicopter Thursday evacuated four of them due to serious medical problems while the ship was still at sea.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced Thursday night that nine European countries (Germany, Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Malta and Lithuania) have committed to taking in two-thirds of the people who stay.

Darmanin highlighted the “European solidarity” shown by these nine countries, in contrast to the criticism that the French government previously directed against Italy for not taking care of the people rescued at sea by the ship.

The arrival of the Ocean Viking in France generated a conflict between Paris and Rome over the Italian government’s refusal to allow the ship to disembark its passengers in its territory to then proceed to distribute it among several European countries.

Darmanin announced measures Thursday against Italy, including reinforcing border controls with that country and suspending “with immediate effect” the relocation agreement that had been established at European level for the distribution of migrants rescued by humanitarian ships.

In addition, France is going to organize “in the next few days” a meeting with the European Commission and with Germany to “draw the consequences of the Italian attitude” because, as French Government Spokesman Olivier Veran said “France wants the response to be European.”

In Rome, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said he considered France’s reaction “incomprehensible” by 234 people, taking into account that according to him Italy “accommodated 90,000 this year alone.” EFE


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