Non-EU Norway Refuses to Take African Migrants from 'Open Arms' NGO Ship
Norwegian Government rejects pressure from France and other European Union countries
Norway has refused to take in a shipload of African migrants currently onboard the "Open Arms" vessel, despite pressure from other European countries.
The Norwegian government said that it won't take any migrants which have been picked up by the Spanish NGO (non-governmental organization) Proactiva Open Arms ship.
The vessel has spent the last few weeks stranded in the Mediterranean Sea after picking up the migrants from northwest African countries and attempting to dock in Italy and unload them there.
The Italian Government refused to let the ship dock, with Italy's populist leader Matteo Salvini accusing the crew of taunting his country over their tough stance on mass-migration.
The French Government requested that Norway - one of the few non-EU countries in Europe - should take in the refugees from the ship.
In response, Norway’s Justice and Immigration Minister, Jøran Kallmyr, stated that his government has declined France’s request.
Kallmyr also reiterated that Norway would not accept any migrants from other NGO ships, such as the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) migrant transport ferry the Ocean Viking either, NKR reports.
While speaking about his reasons for rejecting France’s proposal, Kallmyr told NKR, “basic mechanisms to prevent people from going out to sea are not in place.
"This applies, for example, to a screening system, so that we can quickly return those who do not want to stay in Europe back to Africa.
"And before this is in place, we do not want to participate in a distribution [of migrants].”
The decision comes after Open Arms was permitted to dock at Italy’s Lampedusa island following a protracted standoff.
The migrant ferry had been anchored off of Lampedusa for six days before a local Italian prosecutor allowed them to dock and to offload the migrants they had on board.
After receiving the go-ahead to dock, the founder of the Proactiva Oscar Camps took to twitter, writing, “After 19 days, we will land in Lampedusa today.
"The boat will be temporarily seized, but it is a cost that Open Arms assumes to ensure that people on board can be taken care of.”
Prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio’s interventions come as part of a probe into alleged kidnapping and refusing to obey orders targeting Italy’s Interior Minister Salvini.
Salvini quickly responded to the Patronaggio’s threats and move to offload migrants into Italian territory, saying, “If anybody thinks they can scare me with the umpteenth complaint and wants a trial, they’re mistaken.”
Proactiva’s Open Arms could face severe fines of up to 900,000 euros by the Spanish government for picking up the migrants.
When speaking to Spanish media, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said, “The Open Arms doesn’t have a permit to rescue.”