Dozens of migrants who disembarked on Italy’s Lampedusa Island were again in limbo as a European deal to redistribute them failed to materialize and Madrid said it could fine the Spanish charity for rescuing them, the local Italy has said.
The prospect of a penalty comes after a protracted standoff between the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms and Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini finally came to an end. The boat spent six days anchored off Lampedusa before a local prosecutor ordered that the migrants be allowed to land and the vessel temporarily seized amid a probe of Salvini for banning their entry to port, according to online site.
Many had spent 19 days on board the ship after being picked up while in difficulty trying to make the perilous journey from Libya to Europe in small boats.
There were initially 147 mainly African migrants on the ship, but all minors and some suffering health problems had already disembarked. As they walked down the gangplank one by one to the island’s shore overnight, some could be seen limping or in bandages.
Five EU states (Spain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal) had agreed to take in scores of migrants stranded for weeks on board a crowded rescue ship on Wednesday.
The migrants, picked up in the Mediterranean from early August onwards by the Open Arms, had been forced to remain on the Spanish-registered vessel after the Italian government refused to allow it to dock in line with a closed ports policy it adopted last year.
They finally disembarked on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Tuesday night after an Italian prosecutor ordered the ship’s seizure and evacuation. Several of the migrants jumped overboard and tried to swim to shore.