Salvini Victory: NGO Ship Gives Up on Landing Migrants in Italy, Heads to Malta


The German-based NGO Sea-Eye have announced they will not be challenging the closed port policy of Lega leader Matteo Salvini, opting instead to head for Malta to drop off migrants.

The Sea-Eye vessel Alan Kurdi announced on Friday that they would be changing course from the Italian island of Lampedusa and heading instead to the Maltese port capital of Valletta, Il Giornale reports.

Gordon Isler, a spokesman for the NGO, said they would “not offer Matteo Salvini another opportunity for such an unworthy show. We take our responsibilities to the saved people seriously and now we go to Malta.”

Spanish migrant transport NGO Proactiva Open Arms also announced Friday that they had picked up 123 migrants and were heading to Europe — rather than closer ports in North Africa — for a “safe haven”, but did not give any specifics on which country they were headed.

Immediately after the announcement, Italy’s populist Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini signed a ban on the vessel docking in Italy.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée have also begun a new mission just off the coast of Libya in the so-called search and rescue (SAR) zone after initially giving up operations in December of last year.

The new MSF vessel, the Ocean Viking, set sail for Libya from the port of Marseille on Friday. At 69.3 meters long and 15.5 meters wide, it is slightly smaller than the NGO’s previous vessel the Aquarius, which had its Panamanian flag removed last year and MSF blamed pressure from Matteo Salvini and the Italian government for the move.

The Ocean Viking flies a Norwegian flag and, according to the NGO, costs a total of 14,000 euros to keep operational per day. It can carry as many as 300 migrants at one time.

Louise Guillaumat, director of operations of SOS Méditerranée, said that the ship would not look to force its way into Italian waters as Sea0Watch captain Carola Rackete had done in June before her arrest.

“We will not force Italian territorial waters,” Guillaumat said, but vowed that they would “refuse to land people in Libya”.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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