Italy on Monday seized a German rescue vessel that had been stranded for a week in the Mediterranean after it entered its territorial waters breaching a ban.
Eleonore belonging to German NGO Lifeline had been stranded since Aug. 26 with more than 100 irregular migrants on board as Italy and Malta refused entry.
Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had signed a decree last week banning Eleonore from entering Italy’s territorial waters.
Capt. Claus Peter Reisch in a video which was shared on social media said that the situation has become “dangerous” and he was forced to go the nearest port of southern Italy’s Pozzallo.
After the vessel started sailing toward Pozzallo, Salvini said that everyone has to respect laws and borders ordering the seizure.
“I will protect Italy against those who breach the laws and do not respect the borders,” he said.
Following Salvini’s statements, Italian financial police got on board and communicated to the captain that the vessel had breached the ban, notifying him about the immediate seizure.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 578 migrants have drowned in the triangle between Libya, Malta and Italy in the Mediterranean since the beginning of the year until Aug. 15.
Last year, more than 2,240 people either died or went missing at sea while attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean, according to the UN Refugee Agency. (Anadolu Agency)