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More than a week after the landing of the Ocean Viking in the military port of Toulon in France, Norway, although not part of the EU, announced on Saturday that it would welcome twenty survivors supported by the humanitarian boat.
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated on Saturday November 19 that its country would welcome twenty migrants rescued by the ship Ocean Viking after its landing in France, Italy having refused it access to its ports.
The Ocean Viking, a rescue ship chartered by a French NGO, picked up 234 migrants at sea off the coast of Libya, then waited for weeks to be able to find a port willing to see them disembark.
After having long asked Italy to be able to dock in one of its ports, the Ocean Viking landed in Toulon (southern France) at the beginning of November, in a decision that the French government described as a “exceptional”.
About 40 minors have been placed with French social services and 189 adults have been taken to a detention center to assess the validity of their asylum applications, an official from the French Interior Ministry said on Friday.
123 survivors refused on French territory
Among the adults, 123 did not provide sufficient evidence to support their asylum claims and were refused entry to France, the same source added.
A further 66 adults will be transferred to eleven EU countries, including Germany, Finland and Portugal. Norway, although not part of the EU, indicated on Saturday that it would receive twenty.
“The government took this extraordinary decision in response to a request received from France to help it in a difficult situation,” a ministry spokeswoman told AFP in an email.
She said that the people her country would welcome “had a high probability of meeting the criteria for obtaining refugee status”.
The standoff between France and Italy has reignited the European debate on immigration and heightened tensions between France and the new far-right government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
According to international maritime law, ships in Italy must hardly be able to dock in the nearest port, which means that Italy, because of its geography, welcomes a larger proportion than its EU neighbors of migrants leaving the North African coasts.
The Italian authorities claim to have received some 90,000 migrants since the beginning of the year. They indicated that their refusal to allow the Ocean Viking to dock was a signal sent to the EU to make it understand that they needed a new system for distributing migrants between the countries of the Union.