Italian MPs defy ban; visit 47 asylum seekers on board Sea Watch 3

Twitter / @RescueMed

A delegation of made up of Italian Members of Parliament visited the 47 asylum seekers still stuck on NGO vessel Sea Watch 3 on Sunday. In a statement Mediterranea – Saving Humans said that the delegation visited the vessel at around 9.25am on Monday, and consisted of Nicola Fratoianni, Riccardo Magi and Stefania Prestigiacomo, the Mayor of Siracusa Francesco Italia, medical doctors and lawyers.

READ: End their suffering, disembark 47 migrants now – Sea Watch

The MPs called for an immediate disembarkation of the 47 rescuees who are on board Sea Watch’s vessel which is berthed just 1.4m out of the port of Augusta, after seeking refuge due to adverse weather condition.

READ: Watch: Sea Watch 3 granted refuge in Italian territorial waters

The unexpected visit to the 47 rescuees who have been on board for the past nine days took place despite the “illegal ban” conveyed by the Italian authorities on Saturday afternoon. The rubber boat on which the MP delegation arrived managed to get to the civil search and rescue NGO before the Italian Coast Guard.

MP Riccardo Magi reportedly told Italian media that they have gone on board Sea Watch 3 to exercise their rights and duties as parliamentarians, explaining that they were on board verifying the conditions of the passengers and the crew. Magi called for the immediate disembarkation of the 47 people on board, with MP Nicola Fratoianni urging the Italian government to respect international norms. MP Prestigiacomo stressed that migration was not a show, but required a serious political solution, saying anything short of this would put human lives at risk.

The defy of the ban was an initiative of MEDITERRANEA – Saving Humans, an Italian civil search and rescue NGO which owns Mare Jonio a vessel which carries out rescue operations in the Central Mediterranean along with Open Arms and Sea Watch. The delegation met with the 47 people on board and heard their stories of torture in Libya.

The port of Siracusa remains closed off for disembarkation after orders by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Many people in Italy have taken to the street demanding swift disembarkation of the asylum seekers.