The more than 80 migrants on the rescue vessel "Ocean Viking" in the Mediterranean may land after media reports in Italy. The Italian government has assigned the ship to the port of the island Lampedusa, reported the news agency Ansa. It was still unclear whether the vessel operated by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Méditerranée would arrive directly there or that Coast Guard boats would bring the people ashore.
The "Ocean Viking" had last Sunday saved 50 people. Then she took over another 34 boat people from the sailing yacht "Josefa", which Resqship had previously rescued from distress. Only two people, a heavily pregnant woman and her husband, have been aboard and have been brought to Malta.
Renata Brito / AP / dpa
A rescue team brings 34 refugees from the sailing yacht "Josefa" to the "Ocean Viking"
The permission to start Lampedusa follows an announcement from Germany to take in future every fourth refugee arriving in Italy via the Mediterranean Sea. "This will not overwhelm our migration policy," Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) had told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" on Friday: "I've always said that our migration policy is also humane and we will not let anyone drown."
The Federal Government has already taken over about a quarter of the rescued from Italy. Nothing changes on this key, Seehofer said. But it was high time to say goodbye to the "agonizing procedure" in which refugees had to be distributed individually over Europe in each of the incoming rescue vessels. In the past twelve months, 561 boat people came to Germany via Italy, according to the Federal Ministry of the Interior.
Progress in finding a European solution
There may be some progress in finding a way to distribute boat people across the EU. On 23 September, Malta invited representatives of Germany, France, Italy, EU Council President Finland and the EU Commission to the Maltese town of Vittoriosa to find a provisional quota system. The proposal will be submitted to the European Council in October. "The expectation is that more states will join," said Seehofer.
Italy and Malta had recently repeatedly banned vessels with rescued migrants from entering their ports. The people then often had to endure for several weeks on the ships.