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Open Arms migrant rescue ship within sight of land but still denied a port

An Italian court overturned Salvini's ‘security decree,’ which prevented the civil fleet from entering the country's waters

AN NGO rescue ship with 147 migrants on board is finally within sight of land today, following an Italian court’s decision to suspend far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s ban on the civil fleet.

Two weeks ago the Open Arms — a ship operated by the Spanish charity of the same name — pulled 123 people fleeing Libya’s conflict and ensuing humanitarian nightmare from overcrowded dinghies in the central Mediterranean.



Eight days later the crew saved the lives of 39 more while waiting in international waters between Malta and the Italian island of Lampedusa, after both nations refused to provide the ship with a port of safety.

Fifteen people have been evacuated from the ship by the Italian and Maltese authorities in the past two weeks including a young boy displaying symptoms of tuberculosis. 



On Wednesday, as storms were heading towards the boat’s position, a court in Rome ruled that Salvini’s so-called “security decree” against the vessel was in violation of international laws.

The decree had forbidden the civil fleet from entering Italy’s territorial waters and threatened to fine its captains up to €1 million (£920,000).

Despite the ordeal, statements made on the Open Arms Twitter account appeared optimistic yesterday.



“The decree was suspended, we are in Italy. We still do not have a port, but the end of this nightmare is closer. Humanity will prevail over this madness,” it said.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said yesterday that France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg have agreed to take in the migrants.

Meanwhile the Ocean Viking, a rescue ship operated by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee, remains at sea with 356 people on board and nowhere to go.


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