"We are now on our way to the island of Lampedusa," shouts a young man aboard the private lifeboat "Ocean Viking". Dozens of migrants are sitting around him, bursting out in cheers. This is shown in a video that the organization "Doctors Without Borders" posted on the Internet. She operates the rescue ship.
A few hours later, 82 rescued migrants descend from the ship, down to a boat of the Italian Coast Guard, which brings them ashore. Sunday mornings are all ashore.
The "Ocean Viking" is the first private lifeboat that has handed over migrants rescued so unspectacular this year. Lampedusa was assigned to the NGO as a safe haven. No shit, no shouting from an Italian Minister of the Interior.
A new sea rescue policy
Most migrants are now to be redistributed. According to Italian press reports, Germany and France each take on 24, eight go to Portugal, two to Luxembourg, another 24 remain in Italy.
The handover of the migrants is both end and beginning: it symbolizes the end of the Italian foreclosure policy, as Matteo Salvini has driven it to its departure. At the same time, it stands for a new beginning, for a new sea rescue policy, which a few European states are planning.
Under the leadership of Germany and France, a "coalition of the willing" is forming, which no longer wants to wait for states such as Austria or Hungary to also accept migrants.
This is how the distribution of refugees should work
The idea: These EU states want to distribute migrants rescued in the Mediterranean according to a fixed key. The goal: private maritime rescuers should no longer days and weeks lie before Malta and Lampedusa and therefore have to beg to be allowed to enter a European port.
Negotiations have been going on behind the scenes for months and will be concluded on 23 September at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Malta. Then the solution could be formally decided, which has already been found for the "Ocean Viking".
Malta and Italy would therefore open at least one port, France and Germany could each receive 25 percent of the rescued. Other countries like Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal would welcome the rest of the population. At least Germany is the distribution.
The talks were still ongoing, said Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on Friday the "Süddeutsche Zeitung". But if everything stays as it is, "we can take over 25 percent of those rescued from distress that appear in front of Italy, which will not overwhelm our migration policies."
Previously, the EU countries had been trying for years to agree on fixed quotas for the distribution of refugees. Above all, the Eastern European countries blocked, even Italy's Matteo Salvini was not a fan of the idea, he threw the European partners before hypocrisy instead.
Alessandro Serrano / AFP
Rescued refugees of the "Ocean Viking" in the harbor of Lampedusa
Salvini is gone - the fear of him remains
Now Salvini is gone, a new coalition of Cinque Stelle and Social Democrats ruled Italy. She must prevent Salvini coming back to power at the next opportunity. The new government brought the refugees ashore with Coast Guard boats. There were no TV pictures of the rescue ship in an Italian port, for Salvini they would have been a gift.
Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is therefore faced with a balancing act. He can not continue Salvini's foreclosure agenda. Then he loses the support of the new coalition partners of the Democratic Party (PD). And he can not establish a welcoming culture - many Italians have previously supported Salvini's closed-harbor policy.
The new coalition of the willing is now a middle ground, it ends the unworthy machinations of the lifeboats and their migrants. And at the same time it invalidates Salvini's main argument that Germany and France would abandon Italy.
Even Germany and France have no interest in having to deal with the drooling right-wing populist again soon. So it is probably to explain that both states now go ahead. The time is right, at the same time she is pushing.
The lowest common denominator
However, Seehofer's promise is not exactly daring. For months, hardly any migrants and refugees arrive in Italy or Malta. Only a small proportion of them are landed by private distress rescuers. So far this year, there have been just 1344. In total, 8,104 migrants arrived in Malta and Italy. Germany would have had to absorb a maximum of 336 from them.
This is shown by the statistics of the Italian migration researcher Matteo Villa, who works for the Italian think tank ISPI. In this respect, the quota system is a minimum consensus, the lowest common denominator.
The scheme does not change the fact that the EU continues to intercept migrants from the Libyan Coast Guard and return them to torture camps. That's the reason why so few migrants still make it to Italy or Malta. And it does not change the fact that migrants continue to drown in the Mediterranean. 642 people lost their lives this year alone on the central Mediterranean route.
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Seehofer's back door
In addition, Horst Seehofer apparently plans with a back door. The Ministry of Interior speaks of a "temporary humanitarian emergency distribution mechanism". Changes should be possible if previously the number of rescued migrants has increased significantly, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior the SPIEGEL. In addition, "as a second pillar, further measures should be agreed to avoid the 'pull effect'." The Interior Ministry is in accordance with the other federal ministries and other EU states, it said.
As a pull effect politicians and migration researchers call the theory that, for example, active rescue services promote migration. There is no proof for the existence of a significant pull effect.
On the contrary, migration experts agree that at least the small number of private distress rescuers is not a pull factor. In addition, so-called push factors - such as rape and torture in Libyan refugee camps or poverty and persecution in the homeland of migrants - are far more important factors.
A big difference is the distribution key for the work of the Sea Rescue. They can now plan their missions much better. In the past, some organizations had trouble finding a suitable crew. Too uncertain was the duration of the mission, it was unclear even where one could go from board.
Captain Reisch: "The number of drowned people is much higher than we think"
In Rome, Claus-Peter Reisch only met his lawyers yesterday morning. The captain of the "Eleonore" had landed 104 refugees in Sicily at the beginning of September against the will of the old Italian government - and is therefore to pay according to Salvini security laws 300,000 euros penalty. "The security laws should be stopped," says Reisch. Their application should also retroactively account for the already affected rescue ships, he demands.
He hopes that there will be a fundamental solution at the summit in Malta. He has been involved for a long time. He was only at the end of March with Horst Seehofer in the Ministry of the Interior, says Reisch. He showed the Interior Minister photos of a rescue operation and described the difficult daily life on board. He never got such a report, Seehofer told him, Reisch told the interview in Rome on Monday. "It is impossible and dangerous to keep the refugees out in the sea," says Reisch. "They can also wait on land for the states to which they are distributed."
As soon as there is a political solution, the aid organizations could finally work better, says Reisch. And that is urgently needed. When he was traveling with the "Eleonore" in the Mediterranean, he found a damaged, empty dinghy. He estimates that 100 people have drowned. Two more dinghies had dropped off emergency calls, but they had been away from his location a few hours and probably also had an accident. Reisch says, "The number of drowned people is much higher than we think."
This article is part of the project Global Society, for which our reporters report from four continents. The project is long-term and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
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