Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called a NGO migrant transportation vessel a "pirate ship," and suggested that Germany and The Netherlands should split the 43 passengers who were picked up off the coast of Libya, according to Newsweek.
"Does the European Union want to solve the Sea Watch problem? Easy," Salvini wrote on Facebook, "Dutch ship, German NGO: Half of the immigrants in Amsterdam, the other half in Berlin. And seize the pirate ship."
A group of 10 migrants who were among the original contingent of those currently aboard Sea-Watch 3 were allowed to disembark at Lampedusa by Italy for medical reasons back on June 12. Three unaccompanied minors, the youngest of them just 12, remain onboard.
Salvini argues that his country has taken in too many of the migrants picked up by rescue boats, and that only a fraction are genuinely fleeing war. He had already once refused entry to Sea-Watch 3, only to have the decision overturned by the ECHR in May. Sea-Watch 3 landed at Lampedusa with the 65 migrants it had rescued from a rubber dinghy in the waters off Libya before the ship was impounded for three weeks. It was then released back to the NGO by Italian authorities. -Newsweek
According to the European Commission, 27,800 refugees have been resettled across Europe between 2015 and 2017 through various EU assistance programs. From 2018 to today, another 32,071 have been resettled - with a target of 50,000 by October of this year. The programs allow people to make the journey into Europe without making the perilous journey byland and sea, as tens of thousands of people have died after boarding ramshackle boats in an attempt to cross the Mediterranean.
Italy's frustration over accepting a flood of migrants is undoubtedly responsible in large part for the election of Salvini - a hard-line nationalist who has taken aggressive measures to stem the tide of migrant boats docking in Italian ports. Salvini has repeatedly called on other European nations to shoulder the burden.
According to European Commission spokeswoman Tove Ernst, officials are watching the Sea Watch situation closely.
"For the Commission, this situation shows once again that predictable and sustainable solutions are urgently needed in the Mediterranean," Ernst told Newsweek, adding that the Commission had encouraged EU member states to "agree on temporary arrangements following disembarkation."
"We renew our call on all Member States to facilitate and speed up this crucial work," Ernst added. "In the meantime, until such arrangements are in place, we also call on Member States to bear the humanitarian imperative in mind and contribute to a swift resolution. Whilst we welcome that Italy has proceeded with the evacuation of a number of persons from Sea-Watch 3 for medical reasons, a solution for the remaining people on board is still needed."
Sea Watch is exhausted
Newsweek also reports that those aboard Sea-Watch 3 are "struggling in difficult conditions," while the organization posted a video on Twitter Monday showing a man named Hermann, who says he escaped torture in a Libyan prison and that the group is exhausted.
"We cannot hold and longer. We are like in a prison because we are deprived of everything. We cannot do anything. We cannot even walk, go a bit further, because the boat is small and we are plenty. There is no space anymore," he says.
Seven days ago Hermann addressed the Europeans to call on their solidarity. So far the situation worsened for the 42 people still stuck on the #SeaWatch 3. Having escaped the Libyan torture prisons, the EU deprives them of their basic human rights for 12 days now. pic.twitter.com/8qDZjQYbJk— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) June 24, 2019
Perhaps Hillary Clinton's famous quote on killing Libyan leader Mummar Gaddafi is incomplete:
"We came, we saw, he died, and then a flood of migrants poured into Europe through a destabilized Libya."
Ghadaffi, of course, promised to stop all of this for a mere €5 billion a year.