TOULON, France (AFP): A rescue ship carrying 230 migrants docked at the French port of Toulon on Friday, maritime authorities said, amid a French-Italian row over which country is responsible for them.
The Ocean Viking, operated by a French NGO, had picked up the migrants at sea near the Libyan coast before spending weeks seeking a port to accept them.
The ship docked at 8:50 a.m. (0750 GMT).
France had never before allowed a rescue vessel carrying migrants to land on its coast, but did so this time because Italy had refused access.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Thursday that the migrants were Italy’s responsibility under EU rules, and that the French move was an “exceptional” measure that would not guide future action.
He said Italy’s refusal to accept the migrants was “incomprehensible” and that there would be “severe consequences” for Italy’s bilateral relations with France and with the EU as a whole.