France suspends deal to take in thousands of asylum seekers.The diplomatic spat between Paris and Rome over migrants escalated on Thursday when the French government suspended a plan to take 3,500 asylum seekers currently in Italy.
The row was triggered after Italy's new right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni refused to allow the Ocean Viking ship - carrying 234 rescued migrants - from docking in any Italian port, a move slammed as "unacceptable" by the French government.
On Friday morning the southern French port of Toulon welcomed the search-and-rescue ship, operated by charity SOS Méditerranées, after it had spent more than two weeks waiting to be assigned safe harbour.
[STATEMENT] It is with a mixture of relief & anger that we welcome the news that Toulon, France, has finally been assigned as a safe port for the 230 remaining survivors on #OceanViking, shortly after a medical evacuation of 3 patients & 1 relative.https://t.co/6FGa1lF7tQFrench interior minister Gérald Darmanin said on Thursday that Italy's decision not to assign a port to the Ocean Viking, despite dozens of requests, was "incomprehensible" and would have "extremely severe consequences for our bilateral relations" with Rome.
— SOS MEDITERRANEE (@SOSMedIntl) November 10, 2022
Blaming the “the new Italian leadership” for banning the ship from docking, Darmanin called on all countries involved in a European Union migrant relocation agreement, "including Germany", to suspend the relocation of asylum seekers from Italy.
Italian interior minister Matteo Piantedosi hit back at the French government, stating: “The reaction that France is having in the face of a request to take in 234 migrants — when Italy has taken in 90,000 this year alone — is totally incomprehensible in the face of constant calls for solidarity owed to these people”.
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