In a sign that Italy’s new government will reject the previous administration’s hostile stance towards migrants, an aid ship carrying 82 people rescued from the Mediterranean has been granted permission to dock and let them disembark on Lampedusa, SOS Mediterranee, which operates the ship in partnership with MSF, and an Italian minister said on Twitter.
The vessel, called Ocean Viking, rescued 50 migrants from a shipwreck off the coast of Libya on September 8. It then took on more people rescued by another sailboat which did not have appropriate shelter for them in high seas, according to a statement by SOS Mediterranee.
On Twitter, SOS Mediterranee said: “The #OceanViking just received instruction from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) of Rome to proceed to Lampedusa, Italy, which has been designated as Place of Safety for the 82 survivors rescued in two operations.”
Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Dario Franceschini, member of the Democratic Party, indicated on Twitter that the migrants would be taken in by several European countries. He wrote: “The Government assigns a safe haven to #OceanViking and migrants will be welcomed in many European countries. End of Salvini’s propaganda over the skin of desperate people at sea. Politics and good international relations are back to tackle and solve the migration problem.”
Former Italian Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini, who is well known for his anti-migrant stance, reacted to the post, tweeting: “The new government reopens the ports, Italy turns into a REFUGE FIELD of Europe. Abusive ministers, who hate the Italians.”
The move comes just days after a new Italian coalition government, comprised of the populist 5 Star Movement and the left wing Democratic Party, was sworn in.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was asked by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella to form a new government last month after Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing party League, pulled out of its coalition with the populist 5 Star Movement in an attempt to force snap elections, which he hoped to win given his recent surge in popularity.
Conte managed to reach an agreement between two different political forces, which diverge in views on many issues, including on the European Union. While the Democratic Party strongly supports it, the 5 Star Movement often criticizes it.