Several hundred Tunisian migrants continue to be detained on board two ships in the Palermo harbour. Some of the migrants have been removed from the ships and relocated to reception centres or repatriated to Tunisia. The group of 220 migrants who were transferred by a third ship to Cagliari, Sardinia were moved to the migrant reception centre at Elmas, near Cagliari. Acting in response to a complaint made by members of civil society, the public prosecutor of Palermo opened a preliminary investigation pertaining to possible violations of law in connection with the ongoing shipboard detention of the migrants. Professor Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, Faculty of Law of Palermo, is quoted by news reports as questioning whether there is any legal authority to detain migrants on board ships. Several local politicians who were allowed to board the ships and observe conditions reported that conditions were fine. Adnkronos News reports that the ships that have been used to detain the Tunisians for the past week have been optioned for lease by the Interior Ministry through 31 December.
Tag Archives: Palermo
One of the three passenger ships being used by Italian authorities for the past four days to detain hundreds of Tunisian migrants reached Sardinia this morning (26 September) around 7.30 AM local time. The ship, the Moby Fantasy, left Palermo around 12 midnight on the night of 24-25 September and took over 30 hours to sail to Cagliari, Sardinia. The Moby Fantasy appears to have delayed its arrival in Cagliari by sailing for several hours up and down the south east coast of Sardinia. (See map below.)
It seems that the Moby Fantasy is carrying about 150 to 200 of the 700 Tunisian migrants who have been held on the ships for four days; another 600 or so migrants have been held on two other ships, Moby Vincent and Audacia, which have remained in Palermo, though some of the detained migrants may have been removed from the ships to migrant reception centres in Rome, Bari, and Pozzallo.
Italy Declares Lampedusa Unsafe; Rescued or Intercepted Migrants Will Be Taken to Sicily; 700 Migrants Detained On Board Ships for Past 3 Days
As a result of the violent disturbances on Lampedusa over the past week and a fire that damaged buildings at the island’s migrant reception centre, Italian officials have responded with drastic measures. Lampedusa has been declared an unsafe port and newly intercepted or rescued migrants will not be brought to Lampedusa, but will instead be taken to Sicily.
Hundreds of Tunisians have continued to arrive on Lampedusa in recent weeks and severe overcrowding has again resulted. The overcrowding culminated in the past week’s protests by the Tunisians. Most of the 1200+ Tunisian migrants who were on Lampedusa have been moved from the island by ship or military planes. Approximately 700 Tunisian migrants have been held for the past three days on board passenger ships in the Palermo harbour. News reports say that three ships being used to detain the migrants are the Moby Vincent, Moby Fantasy, and Audacia. AIS ship tracking information shows that as of early Sunday morning, 25 September, the Moby Vincent and Audacia are still in the harbour and that the Moby Fantasy left Palermo during the night of the 24th and is sailing towards Sardinia. It is unclear whether the Moby Fantasy is carrying migrants or not.
Interior Minister Roberto Maroni was quoted on Saturday as saying that the migrants now in Palermo will all be repatriated within a few days. (“Roberto Maroni ha assicurato che gli immigrati che sono stati prelevati da Lampedusa e che si trovano attualmente a Palermo ‘saranno tutti rimpatriati nel giro di pochi giorni’”.) Maroni said that 600 Tunisians were repatriated last week and that ten repatriation flights were scheduled for the coming week.
Click here for the Euro-Police blog post on the situation.