Italy’s Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, announced on Wednesday that a distribution agreement reached with six other European countries would allow the 47 migrants blocked for 12 days on the Sea-Watch 3 ship to go onshore in Italy “in the next few hours”.“
Luxembourg has joined the list of friendly countries that have responded to our invitation” to take in migrants,” Conte told the press in Milan. “The landing operations will begin in the next few hours.”
The seven countries are France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Rumania, according to the Italian media.
Sea-Watch 3, chartered by Sea-Watch, a German NGO, and bearing Dutch flag, is currently off Syracuse, in southeast Sicily, where it was authorised to shelter from the bad weather. A meeting was held in the Syracuse prefecture on Wednesday morning, probably to organise the landing of the migrants, according to the media.
As in the case of other migrants saved at sea by Sea-Watch 3 and landed in early January in Malta after being blocked at sea for over two weeks, the ship will probably remain away from the shore, and hand over the migrants to the authorities’ launches, which will take them to land.
On Monday evening, French President Emmanuel Macron had announced at a summit of the seven European countries in Nicosia that France was ready to share the reception of the 47 migrants.
Italian Internal Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini had stressed that the migrants could only set foot in Italy if they then continued on to Germany, the NGO’s home country, or the Netherlands, where the ship is registered.