Italy had refused to accept the request to take in the migrants on board the Ocean Viking ship since late October when they were rescued. France has deemed this refusal unacceptable.
234 Survivors Stranded Aboard the Ocean Viking Head for France
In this regard, the Italian minister said, "we do not understand why Italy should willingly accept what others are not willing to accept," noting that 90 000 migrants have been received in the country this year.
Piantedosi described France's position as "incomprehensible." According to the Interior Minister, Italy's reception system is undergoing very serious difficulties.
The diplomat said that the migration situation is being faced by Italy "alone." Since the beginning of the year, only 117 people out of the 90 000 migrants arriving in Italy have been transferred to other countries, 38 to France.
The Ocean Viking is carrying 234 refugees, according to the NGO SOS Méditerranée, in charge of rescuing lives at sea. They were rescued between October 22 and 26 near the coasts of Italy and Malta, which denied the ship entry to their ports.
France has criticized this refusal, and the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, has called for the admission of the migrants found in Italy's jurisdictional waters out of respect for the European commitment.
Finally, today SOS Méditerranée announced that 230 refugees on board the Ocean Viking had been authorized to disembark in Toulon, France. The ship is expected to arrive in port on Friday morning. Four people in critical condition were evacuated this morning for emergency treatment at the hospital in Bastia (Corsica).
Sophie Beau, co-founder and executive director of SOS Méditerranée, denounced the plight of the people aboard the Ocean Viking. "Disembarking almost three weeks after the rescue operation, so far from the area of operations in the central Mediterranean, is the result of a dramatic failure on the part of all European states, which have flouted maritime law in an unprecedented way."