After the migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 4 landed in Palermo, a spokesperson for the NGO that runs the ship called on the Italian government to not take "vexatious initiatives" regarding the vessel, "as it did with the Sea-Watch 3."
"We hope that the government doesn't take vexatious initiatives with regards to the Sea-Watch 4 like it did with the Sea-Watch 3 and other humanitarian ships that carried out rescues in recent months," said Sea-Watch spokesperson Giorgia Linardi on Wednesday evening following the arrival of the Sea-Watch 4 on Italian shores.
The Sea-Watch 3 ship had been seized by Italian authorities, who cited "several irregularities" as the reason for the seizure, in early July. Like the names suggest, both Sea-Watch 3 and 4 belong to the German migrant rescue organization Sea-Watch. The Sea-Watch 3 is one of three ships that have been detained by Italian authorities since May.
353 new migrants on quarantine ship
On Wednesday, 353 people had been transferred from the Sea-Watch 4 to the quarantine ship Allegra off the coast of Palermo, after Italian authorities authorized the transfer.
Sea-Watch 4's Linardi said that private sea rescue organizations prevented uncontrollable autonomous arrivals. "We believe that we are building an important element of decompression that can save human lives, avoiding unnecessary agony, hours and days at sea without rescues and reducing the number of autonomous arrivals on Lampedusa," Linardi said.
"The work of NGOs guarantees the rescue of human lives in a safer and even more controlled way regarding the potential spread of COVID-19 infections. Every day our doctors provide medical reports to authorities and take body temperatures. Those aboard are divided by rescue and asymptomatic cases are isolated."
Also on Wednesday after the migrant transfer, Palermo Mayor Leoluca Orlando said the operation went smoothly, in part because of the government's involvement. "Everything took place in absolute safety and calm, confirming the fact that the national government's choice is the best one for guaranteeing the rights and safety of all, on land and at sea," he said.