The Rhapsody ship, where 868 migrants are in quarantine | Photo: ANSA/Elio Desiderio
The Rhapsody ship, where 868 migrants are in quarantine | Photo: ANSA/Elio Desiderio

The Italian national ombudsman for detainee rights last week visited a quarantine ship for migrants anchored off Palermo. Mauro Palma said that he had found conditions on the Rhapsody much better than those in previous temporary facilities provided in overcrowded hotspots in the country.

Italy's national ombudsman for detainee rights, Mauro Palma, and Daniela de Robert, a member of the board for detainee rights, visited the Rhapsody quarantine ship on Thursday, September 17. The ship, used to quarantine migrants, is anchored off Palermo.

The visit was conducted after a meeting at the prefect's office in Palermo. Taking part was also the head of the interior ministry's department for civil liberties and immigration Michele Di Bari.

Some 868 are in quarantine on the ship as part of COVID-19 regulations, including 54 that have tested positive for the virus but are asymptomatic.They are located in the cabins of a deck that has been set aside for this purpose. Another 814 are instead simply undergoing a mandatory 14-day period of isolation after arriving in Italy.

Red Cross and shipping company crew onboard

There are no police forces onboard, only the Red Cross and personnel from the shipping company.The people undergoing isolation are lodged in two-bed cabins (for single use) or four-bed ones (for two people or more in the case of family units). The migrants are urged to limit their excursions outside of the cabin to the absolute minimum and to maintain social distancing with others. Meals are served in the cabins.

A statement issued during the visit noted that the delegation visited the cabins and common areas of one of the decks used for the 14-day mandatory isolation period.

'Dignified lodgings and professionalism'

"The overall feeling [was one] of dignified lodgings and the professionalism of workers," the statement said. "The current lodgings [are] incomparable with previous ones in temporary facilities or overcrowded hotspots and confirms the assessment of absolute acceptability of this solution, which the national ombudsman has already expressed on other occasions."

The national ombudsman expressed his "thanks and appreciation towards Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, department chief Michele Di Bari and the staff [on board] for the efforts made to facilitate the visit."


More articles