Updated: Watch: Italian police seize Lifeline’s vessel; Asylum seekers to disembark

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Credit: Jonathan Schörnig 

German NGO vessel Eleonore has challenged the security decree issued by Italian far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and entered port in Pozzallo. Salvini signed a decree last week banning the Eleonore from entering Italian waters as part of his closed-door policy.

Italian Authorities are already on site, after docking, the asylum seekers will disembark in Italy.

Credit: Jonathan Schörnig 

Mission Lifeline’s new vessel rescued 101 asylum seekers on August 26. Captain Claus-Peter Reisch declared a state of emergency after the vessel was hit by a thunderstorm outside Maltese territorial waters. Reisch for the port of Pozzallo, on the island of Sicily, sparking a new standoff between rescuers and Italy’s interior minister.

“The ship was seized and migrants will be disembarked around midday,” said a spokesman for Italy’s financial police in Rome, which is dealing with the case.

State of emergency declared on board Eleonore

Credit: Jonathan Schörnig 

A state of emergency has been declared on board the German NGO vessel Eleonore after it was hit by heavy thunderstorms during the night on Sunday. With 101 rescued asylum seekers on board, the Eleonore is sailing towards Pozzallo, despite the ban by the Italian authorities.

Credit: Jonathan Schörnig 

The vessel which is operated by German NGO Mission Lifeline was just outside Maltese territorial waters. Captain Claus-Peter Reisch appealed to the authorities on Sunday, saying that the situation on board is untenable given that 101 asylum seekers and 9 crew members are constrained on a 20-meter sailing boat.

READ: ‘This is inhumane, the situation can’t go on’ – Lifeline’s Captain Reisch

Germany has requested the European Commission to lead negotiations among willing member states in order to reach an agreement which would allow those on board disembarkation at a safe port followed by their relocation to other member states.

READ: 101 asylum seekers remain stranded on board Lifeline’s vessel

Mission Lifeline returned to search and rescue after a year. Last summer, the Lifeline had taken 234 migrants on board in the Mediterranean. Following an odyssey that lasted several days, the ship was allowed to dock in Valletta. Maltese authorities confiscated the ship upon arrival and charged Captain Reisch. Earlier this year, he was fined €10,000 however he is appealing the court’s decision.

On August, 26 the Eleonore rescued 101 people from a deflating dinghy. Since then the situation onboard has worsened due to the lack of space and sleep.

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