Refugees in the Mediterranean: Italy confiscates "Open Arms"


After almost three weeks at sea and several days of tension off the island of Lampedusa, the "Open Arms" auxiliary vessel was confiscated by the Italian authorities. The refugees are brought to the ground.

It is the temporary end of a nearly three-week odyssey: the Italian prosecutor ordered the confiscation of the "Open Arms". All migrants on board must be landed. The Italian media report that the prosecutor, Luigi Patronaggio, made the decision after acquiring an impression of the situation, accompanied by two doctors on board the ship.

The situation on board was increasingly out of control, according to the crew. "Finally the nightmare is over and the 83 people on board receive immediate help on the ground", tweeted the "Proactiva Open Arms" organization. The "Open Arms" had saved 123 people on August 1 and then again 39 people in difficulty. She has been lying for days in front of Lampedusa, but was not allowed to enter the port. Several times people have been taken to Italy or Malta in poor health.

Desperate jump in the water

At least 14 migrants jumped into the water today and tried to reach the Italian island, which is a few hundred meters away. The Italian Coast Guard pulled it out of the water and brought it to Lampedusa.

On earth, the migrants were immediately treated by the doctors, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. It was not the first attempt of its kind, but so far the helpers had sent the refugees back to the ship.

In the afternoon two people with health problems were also brought on board, according to Italian media. Yesterday, eight people were allowed to go ashore for "urgent medical treatment" due to injuries, infections and post-traumatic stress phenomena.

Spanish warship on the way

Now it is not clear if the refugees still have to be taken to Spain. In the last few days there has been a conflict between the Spanish government and the aid organization "Proactive Open Arms". In the end, the Madrid government announced that it would send a warship to the "Open Arms" to welcome migrants. However, "Audaz" is still found in the port of Rota, on the Spanish west coast. It should take three days in Lampedusa.

There he would have to bring people on board the "Open Arms" and then drive to Palma de Mallorca.

The auxiliary ship's crew had previously refused to take the route to Spain because it was unable to travel for days. Italy had offered to bring migrants to Spain with a Coast Guard ship, but this too was rejected by the "Open Arms".

The Tagesschau reported on this subject on 20 August 2019 at 20:00.

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