Forty-one migrants disembarked at the Italian port of Lampedusa on Saturday, after the rescue vessel Alex defied Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s ban to enter Italian ports on earlier that day.
Two migrants expressed their feelings after being rescued off the Libyan coast and docking on the island in footage filmed on Monday.
“If you see somebody taking the Mediterranean Sea, putting his own life at risk – you know it’s very, very hard – you don’t have choice again. For him, to live or to die it’s equal. It’s equal. You don’t have choice, no choice. To live or to die it’s the same,” said 19-year old Didier, a migrant from Cameroon.
He explained the arrival was a very emotional moment and he was surprised by seeing people welcoming the migrants on Lampedusa’s docks. “They showed you love, they’re clapping, they showed you they are happy to meet you, they’re happy to know who you are. They didn’t judge you. It’s just like that everybody is imagining Europe.”
Another migrant from Guinea recalled feeling unsafe at the moment of rescue, over fears of being taken back to Libya.
“At the moment there was one of them [rescuer], I told him ‘Are you sure are we safe? Are you sure if we are safe?’ Because I was afraid maybe that the rescuers would have brought us back to Libya. Do you understand what I’m saying? So they immediately took us, they saved us. We entered inside the rescue boat, after just a minute the Libyan Coast Guard came. They had no power again.”
The rescue vessel, operated by the NGO Mediterranea, reportedly entered Italian waters without permission after claiming a state of necessity and ‘intolerable hygienic conditions’ on board.
It was later seized by the Italian financial authorities, and it may now face a fine of up to 65,000 euros.