France has said it will take some migrants from the NGO migrant rescue ship Ocean Viking which has been stalled at sea for 13 days with 356 migrants aboard after Interior Minister Matteo Salvini denied it entry into Italian waters under his hard-line closed-ports policy.
But Paris said the principle of sailing to the nearest safe port, in this case on the Italian island of Lampedusa or Malta, could not be called into question.
“They must find a close port for landing for the Ocean Viking, logically Italy or Malta,” the Elysée Palace said Wednesday night.
The Ocean Viking is run by the French NGO SOS Mediterranée and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
“(The migrants) have already suffered enough,” MSF said Thursday. The case is the latest standoff between Salvini and NGO-run rescue ships.
The Spanish-NGO run Open Arms ship was allowed to land its 100 or so migrants at Lampedusa after an Italian prosecutor found there was a hygiene emergency on board.
MSF said that its rescue ship is running out of food supplies for 356 migrants.
Most of the migrants on the ship are reportedly from Sudan. They include more than 100 children — around 90 of them unaccompanied, MSF said. Three children are under the age of five, it added.