The refugees who have been staying on the rescue ship “Ocean Viking” for days are apparently to be taken to an Italian quarantine ship. The 180 migrants would be tested for the novel corona virus and expected to switch to “Moby Zaza” on Monday, the Italian Ministry of the Interior said on Saturday. The quarantine ship is currently anchored off the Sicilian port city of Porto Empedocle.
According to the Ministry of the Interior in Rome, the authorities of the city of Pozzallo in Sicily sent a medical team on board the “Ocean Viking” to examine the refugees. “No particular health problems” were found. The tense situation on board has also improved.
The “Ocean Viking” declared an emergency on Friday. The situation on the ship had escalated to such an extent that the safety of the 180 rescued and the crew could no longer be guaranteed, said the aid organization SOS Méditerranée. The NGO reported several suicide attempts. The refugee aid workers said they had rescued the migrants from the sea between June 25 and 30. Among them are 25 minors.
“We are left alone with 180 people in severe mental distress at sea,” said the managing director of SOS Méditerranée Germany, Verena Papke, on Saturday. “The only response from the Italian maritime authorities was to send a medical team to the Ocean Viking at noon, consisting of a doctor and a cultural mediator.” According to SOS Méditerranée, the authorities in Italy and Malta had refused all requests to moor in one of their Mediterranean ports in the past few days.
Every month, numerous people try to get from Africa across the Mediterranean to Europe in unseaworthy boats. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1283 people drowned last year. There have been a total of more than 19,000 deaths in the past five years.
Countries such as Italy and Malta are now following a hard line and often refuse to accept rescued refugees. They call for the solidarity of the other EU countries with the distribution of the refugees. All attempts to achieve a fair distribution within Europe have so far failed.