In a sign that Italy’s new government will reject the previous administration’s hostile stance towards migrants, an aid ship carrying 82 people rescued from the Mediterranean has been granted permission to dock and let them disembark on Lampedusa.
The vessel, called Ocean Viking, rescued 50 migrants from a shipwreck off the coast of Libya on September 8. It then took on more people rescued by another sailboat which did not have appropriate shelter for them in high seas.
On Twitter, SOS Mediterranee said: “The #OceanViking just received instruction from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) of Rome to proceed to Lampedusa, Italy, which has been designated as Place of Safety for the 82 survivors rescued in two operations.”
Italy’s Minister of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Dario Franceschini, member of the Democratic Party, indicated on Twitter that the migrants would be taken in by several European countries. He wrote: “The Government assigns a safe haven to #OceanViking and migrants will be welcomed in many European countries. End of Salvini’s propaganda over the skin of desperate people at sea. Politics and good international relations are back to tackle and solve the migration problem.”
The “end of Salvini’s propaganda” refers to former Italian Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini, who is well known for his anti-migrant stance.
The move comes just days after a new Italian coalition government, comprised of the populist 5 Star Movement and the left wing Democratic Party, was sworn in.