No end in sight to the rescue ship odyssee?
After almost three weeks in limbo the rescue ship Open Arms has docked in Italy. The Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini was set on preventing this even though six EU states had offered to take the migrants. On Tuesday a state attorney issued an order to allow the boat to dock on Lampedusa. This latest controversy over a rescue ship prompts concern among Europe's media.
Undignified haggling over each boat
Salvini is not the only one to blame for the odyssey of the Open Arms, explains the Wiener Zeitung:
“There are quite simply no easy solutions here, only ones that are incredibly complicated and time-consuming. Starting with the fact that rescue at sea should really be a matter for the state authorities and not private initiatives and associations. Not only because the latter have to appeal to emotions to raise funds, but also because of this. There are issues that are easier to solve with screaming media headlines, but emergency rescue at sea is not one of them. If the international community runs and coordinates the rescue boats it becomes a lot easier to orchestrate the refugees' arrival. It would also put an end to the undignified and purely symbolic haggling over every boat in the media.”
Europe's weaknesses are being exposed
ABC comments on Spain's deployment of a naval ship to rescue the migrants shortly before the Open Arms docked:
“The absence of coordination between the two governments is lamentable and as pathetic as a comedy that isn't funny. Spain ordering a military operation without anticipating Italy's next move shows that when it comes to combating illegal immigration or finding a dignified and effective response to a humanitarian tragedy, Europe has a long way to go. The Open Arms crew has not behaved responsibly - but it is exposing Spain and Italy's incompetence.”
Criminalising the rescuers won't help
The Times of Malta is disgusted by Matteo Salvini's course of action:
“This cruel policy could spell the end for rescue in Italian waters, or the end for the organisations that carry them out there. What we're seeing is the criminalisation of rescue at sea, and it's ugly, inhumane, and ultimately unsustainable. ... Of course the prospect of possible or likely rescue makes sea passage an easier sell for smugglers and traffickers. But similarly, the absence of search and rescue does not stem the flow of people out of Libya, it doesn’t stop people dying at sea and it doesn't stop people from reaching foreign shores.”