the Ocean Viking will dock in Toulon “exceptionally” with 230 migrants on board

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The humanitarian ship Ocean Viking will dock in Toulon on Friday 11 November with 230 migrants on board. “ Exceptionally This was announced Thursday by the French government, at the end of a diplomatic showdown with Italy.

I clarified, at the request of the President of the Republic, that it is by way of exception that we welcome this boat, given the fifteen days of waiting at sea that the Italian authorities have submitted to the passengers “, Affirmed the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, designating the military port of Toulon for landing.

The French authorities took the exceptional decision to compensate for the unacceptable behavior of the Italian government.

Gérald Darmin, French Minister of the Interior

He also criticized the ” incomprehensible choice “And contrary to” international law from Italy, led by a new far-right government that refused to open its ports. ” One third “The migrants on board will be” relocated “to France and another third to Germany, continued Gérald Darmanin, adding that those who do not meet the criteria for the right of residence or asylum” will be returned directly “, Without further details.

Anger from France, response from Italy

If the decision to welcome an ambulance in France for the first time was a ” duty of humanity “, According to Gérald Darmanin, the latter mainly expressed the anger of Paris. ” Now we need to be able to organize things differently so that Italy cannot benefit from European solidarity and be selfish when refugees, especially children, show up. at its ports.

►Read also: Migrants: the Ocean Viking en route to France after the Italian government banned docking

In protest, France has decided to suspend ” with immediate effect “the expected reception of 3,500 migrants currently in Italy and the promise to draw on” the results “Of the Italian attitude on the other aspects of his” bilateral relationship “, Insisted Gérald Darmanin.

The Minister of the Interior Matteo Piantedosi has meanwhile denounced the French decision of retaliation against Rome, defining it ” totally incomprehensible “.” France’s reaction to the request to accept 234 migrants is completely incomprehensible, when Italy has accepted 90,000 this year alone the Italian minister said in a statement.

Controversy in France

On Thursday, four of the 234 migrants aboard the ship, including three for medical reasons and a companion, were evacuated to Bastia, Corsica. The rescues took place at the end of the morning: an Air Force helicopter with a medical team took off around 11 from the base of Solenzara, in Corsica, to pick up the patients, specified the frigate captain Pierre-Louis Josselin, spokesman for the maritime prefecture. At 12:15, this helicopter landed at Bastia hospital.

Our first reaction is one of great relief

Sophie Beau, General Manager of SOS Méditerranée

Being able to dock in Toulon is ” a relief tinged with bitterness “Said the director of the NGO SOS Méditerranée, Sophie Beau. This long block in the sea ” shows that there is an urgent need for European states to put in place a lasting distribution mechanism »For migrants rescued in the Mediterranean, after having generally fled Libya aboard makeshift boats.

The reception of this boat aroused the ire of the far right in France, such as Marine Le Pen, who sees us ” a dramatic sign of laxity “.” With this decision, (Emmanuel Macron) can no longer make anyone believe that he wants to end massive and anarchic immigration “The president of the RN group wrote to the Assembly on Twitter.

big breakthrough

This is an important turning point “, He entrusted AFP with a source close to the file, evoking” the political precedent it sets “:” From now on, will humanitarian ships have the reflex to come to France when Italy closes its ports?

If the French decision is ” essential and welcome “, why her” help save lives “,” there will, unfortunately, be more Ocean Vikings “, For her part, Delphine Rouilleault, who heads the association France land of asylum. ” Europe must further increase pressure on the Italian government to force it to honor its commitments “.

Pending landing on Friday, the Ocean Viking was ascending off the east coast of Corsica. Before him, three other NGO boats managed to disembark rescued migrants, about 800 people. The Italian authorities had initially accepted only women, children and the sick, a selection described by Rome as a means of pressure on the EU to help Italy more.

Since June, a relocation system, which had already gone through a first phase in 2019, provides for a dozen Member States, including France and Germany, to voluntarily welcome 8,000 migrants who have arrived in countries such as Italy, near the Libyan coast. However, only 164 were relocated from Italy to other Member States in 2022, of which 117 under the mechanism adopted in June. Insufficient numbers judge Italy.

►Listen also: Migrants aboard Ocean Viking: “The solidarity mechanism no longer exists”

(With AFP)

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