The Ocean Viking ship of international organizations SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders dropped 182 rescued migrants in the port of the Italian Messina after receiving permission from the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs, SOS Mediterranee reported on its Twitter.
According to the la Stampa newspaper, Ocean Viking was the first humanitarian vessel in more than a year to enter the Italian port and transfer migrants without opposition from the authorities. Earlier, the ships of various NGOs transferred rescued migrants to Italian ships without approaching the shore.
The Ocean Viking took migrants on board last week as a result of three rescue operations off the coast of Libya. The Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs designated the Sicilian Messina as a “safe port” after which the Ministers of the Interior of the five EU countries agreed on the possibility of “automatic” distribution of migrants saved at sea.
According to the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the number of migrants arriving in the country by sea has increased by 57% since the beginning of September compared to the same period last year. Such dynamics can be associated with the resignation of the country’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who took a tough position on limiting the number of migrants arriving in Italy and repeatedly stated that the country’s ports are closed to NGOs involved in rescuing migrants at sea, comparing them with smugglers. Italy’s migration policy softened with the advent of the new government, which formed the 5 Star Movement and the Democratic Party.