The Italian coast guard blocked, Friday, June 4, in the port of Palermo (Sicily) a rescue vessel for migrants belonging to the German NGO Sea-Eye for non-compliance with security rules, they announced on Saturday.
“An inspection revealed various irregularities of a technical nature likely to compromise not only the safety of the crew members but also that of the persons who have been or who may in the future be recovered on board during operations of rescue “, said the coast guards in a statement.
Among others, “The inspection confirmed that the ship’s rescue equipment is sufficient for a maximum number of 27 people (…), which means that in an emergency the crew would not be able” to guarantee the evacuation of all those on board, they added, specifying that the ship was subject to a “Administrative immobilization until the rectification of the irregularities noted”.
The German organization’s hospital ship was moored at the port of Palermo after disembarking 415 migrants in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo and observed a period of quarantine imposed by the health authorities.
“A safe rescue”
In a statement sent to Agence France-Presse (AFP) on Saturday, the German NGO denounced the decision of the Italian authorities against their rescue vessel, the Sea-Eye 4 : “As with other civilian rescue vessels, the same technical reasons are now invoked to put an end to the missions of the Sea-Eye 4 ».
“The argument is still that German rescue ships routinely save too many people from drowning and are incorrectly certified for this humanitarian purpose”, denounced the president of Sea-Eye, Gorden Isler, quoted in the press release. “Our captain fulfilled his duty of rescue at sea in an exemplary manner. He saw emergencies at sea and carried out a safe rescue. EU states [Union européenne] can be inspired by it “, added Isler.
This was the first mission of the Sea-Eye 4, which had left the Rostock shipyard (northern Germany) in mid-April to head for the Mediterranean.
Italy is one of the main entry points into Europe for migrants from North Africa, mainly from Tunisia and Libya, from where departures are up sharply compared to previous years. Around 15,000 people have arrived on the Italian coast since January, almost three times more than at the same time in 2020, according to the Italian interior ministry.