Romania, eight other states to host Ocean Viking migrants turned away by Italy
Nine European states, among which Romania, have agreed to take in two-thirds of the over 200 migrants off the Ocean Viking humanitarian ship after Italy turned the vessel away from its shores.
Germany agreed to take in over 80 persons, while Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Luxembourg, and Ireland agreed to host the remainder.
The Ocean Viking will arrive in the French port of Toulon, according to the French minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin cited by G4Media. Toulon is the biggest naval base in the Mediterranean and the main port for the French Navy. The port will make an exception to its rules and receive the Ocean Viking, the ship belonging to the maritime humanitarian NGO SOS Méditerranée.
There are roughly 231 migrants on board the Ocean Viking, 57 of whom are children. Most of them are from Bangladesh, Eritrea, Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Mali, or Sudan. They were recovered near the Libyan coast and, as per international agreements, asked to be dropped off at the nearest port, which was in Italy.
Italy, however, turned the ship away, denying it access to its Sicily ports. The decision caused anger among NGOs and European officials. Darmanin accused the new rightwing Italian government led by Giorgia Meloni of disregarding international law and maritime law.
The French minister also said that France will suspend the transfer of roughly 3,500 migrants from Italy to France. The latter had agreed to receive the migrants but now says that it would not do so until Italy abides by European solidarity, international law, and previous commitments made in Rome.
The Ocean Viking has been at sea for three weeks now, and many of the migrants are in need of medical attention. Roughly 1,765 migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea since the start of the year.