The humanitarian ship Ocean Viking, chartered by the French NGO SOS Méditerranée, was allowed to dock in the military port of Toulon, in the south of France, to disembark 230 migrants rescued in the central Mediterranean, off the coast of Libya.
At a press conference, the responsible of the prefecture Var Evence Richard announced that the migrants will be placed in a “waiting area” in the commune of Hyères and that two-thirds of them will then be relocated to nine European countries, namely Germany, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, and Ireland.
On Thursday, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced that the migrants on board the Ocean Viking will be received in France “exceptionally” and as a humane duty, after Italy ignored all requests to disembark the humanitarian ship.
Rome’s refusal created strong tensions with Paris, which recalled that Italy, under admiralty law, was obliged to receive these migrants. Gérald Darmanin strongly criticised the new Italian far-right government and said that “Italy has been very inhumane”.