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The humanitarian ship “Ocean Viking” docked in France with 230 migrants on board, after three weeks of wandering at sea

The humanitarian ship Ocean-Viking landed on Friday, November 11, in Toulon with 230 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean on board. This is the first landing in France of an ambulance ship rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean.

Over the past three weeks, the ship of the NGO SOS Méditerranée has asked Italy forty-three times to be able to disembark. In vain. The boat therefore took the direction of France on Tuesday. At first, the executive had closed the door to a possible reception, sending Rome back to its responsibilities. “The European rule is that the boat must land in the nearest port, which is an Italian port”declared the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, Thursday morning on France 2.

The Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, finally announced Thursday at midday Thursday at midday that the military port of Toulon would welcome Friday, ” exceptionally ” and under “a duty of humanity” I’Ocean-Viking.

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The ship, whose fate sparked several days of arm wrestling between Paris and Rome, arrived at the military port around 8:45 a.m. to disembark the migrants who will be immediately placed in a ” waiting area “, said Mr. Darmanin. The survivors aboard theOcean-Vikingincluding fifty-seven children, “will not be able to leave the administrative center where we will put them and will therefore not technically be on French soil”did he declare.

A doctor boarded on board before the ship docked, spokeswoman for SOS Méditerranée, Méryl Sotty, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “The landing will start first with people with particular vulnerabilities established by the French doctor, then women, children and families”she added.

“Italy was very inhumane”

Their arrival in France is particularly tense on the right and on the far right, which has cried out “laxity” by the voice of Marine Le Pen. Conversely, the left and ecologists hailed a “duty of humanity” and an “decision worthy of values” from France.

From Friday, all these people – who come from different countries, some of which are at war, such as Syria – will be subject to health monitoring, then security checks by the intelligence services. They will then be heard by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees (Ofpra), which grants refugee status, detailed the Ministry of the Interior.

In full presentation of a bill on immigration which plans in particular to reform asylum procedures to achieve more deportations, the entourage of Mr. Darmanin specified that “those who do not receive asylum will be deported directly from the waiting area to their country of origin”. Two-thirds of the people will not stay in France anyway, since they will be relocated to nine countries, said the ministry, citing Germany, which is to accommodate around eighty, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal and Ireland.

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Mr. Darmanin sharply criticized the new far-right Italian government, which refused to open its ports toOcean-Vikingwhereas maritime law, according to him, obliged him to do so: “Italy was very inhumane. » He announced the suspension “immediate effect” of the planned reception of 3,500 migrants currently in Italy and promised to draw ” the results “ on other aspects of his “bilateral relationship”.

In reality, if the law of the sea imposes to save migrants in danger, it does not say which State must welcome them, a vagueness which encourages countries to pass the buck. In fact, the disembarkation of migrants by humanitarian ships is almost systematically the subject of tense negotiations between States, with a view to their distribution.

Read also: Migrants rescued in the Mediterranean: what does international law say?

Relocation mechanism

For its part, SOS Méditerranée said it felt “a relief tinged with bitterness”. “The survivors lived through a real ordeal”, the director of the NGO, Sophie Beau, told AFP. Four of the 234 migrants on the humanitarian ship had to be evacuated to Corsica on Thursday, three of them for medical reasons.

He is “urgent that the European States set up a permanent distribution mechanism”pleaded once again Mme Beautiful, while Italy multiplies anti-migrant declarations. “Europe must further increase the pressure on the Italian government to force it to respect its commitments”estimated for her part Delphine Rouilleault, who heads the France Terre d’Asile association.

Since June, a system of relocation of asylum seekers provides that a dozen member states of the European Union (EU), including France and Germany, voluntarily welcome 8,000 migrants arriving in the Mediterranean states. (Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Malta). However, only around 100 migrants were relocated under this mechanism. An insufficient number, judges Italy.

Since the beginning of the year, 1,891 migrants have disappeared in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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