Ocean Viking rescue ship picks up 251 migrants off Libya - The Libyan Report

Ocean Viking rescue ship picks up 251 migrants off Libya

The Ocean Viking migrant ship rescued 81 people from an unseaworthy rubber boat on Sunday, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF). There are now 251 people on board following three rescue missions in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast.

The Norwegian-flagged ship had already picked up 85 migrants on Friday and another 80 on Saturday during its first two rescue missions, before Sunday's operation. The 69-meter (226-foot) cargo ship has 31 crew members and can comfortably hold up to 200 migrants.

Read more: Mediterranean gets new NGO migrant rescue ship

Migrant life in Italian dystopia From dream to dystopia Conceived in the 1960s as a seaside town for the Neapolitan middle class, Castel Volturno, which stretches 27 kilometers (17 miles) along the Mediterranean, grew without any urban planning. In 1980, it became a shelter for people made homeless by an earthquake in nearby Irpinia. Subsequently tourists turned to other sea spots, and the local economy crumbled. Nowadays 30,000 rooms stand empty.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia A place called home Castel Volturno is home to about 40,000 people. Many came from sub-Saharan Africa, mostly Nigeria and Ghana. The immigrant presence dates back to the 1980s, when Africans filled the demand for manual labor in the tomato fields.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia Setting up a new economy Ester has a talent for hairdressing and makeup, so she recently opened her own salon. Due to the lack of services and economic opportunities, the African communities created their own economy, relying mainly on small shops, restaurants and mobile phone stores.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia 'I have what it takes, but I am still begging' Israel, from Nigeria, was rejected for numerous jobs due to lack of papers. After several times back and forth to the refugee commission, he was finally granted asylum until 2021. Even so, he remains unemployed. He ended up in Castel Volturno after looking for a cheap place to live.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia Organized crime territory This area has always proved fertile for the expansion of criminal organizations from the nearby cities of Naples and Caserta. On September 18, 2008, the powerful Casalesi clan shot dead six African migrants to affirm their control over the area. The victims were chosen randomly and had no connection to drug dealing, one of the crime organization's businesses.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia Connection houses Connection houses are private apartments that function as restaurants, places to gather and also brothels. African men come here to have a drink, smoke and, if they wish, have sex with prostitutes. Older Nigerian women tend to run them.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia Dreams don't come true J., 26, from Delta State in Nigeria arrived in Italy a year ago. Her dream was to complete her education in Italy, but she ended up working in a connection house in Castel Volturno. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 11,000 Nigerian women arrived on Italian shores in 2016. The number fell to 5,425 in 2017, but they remain among the top nationalities to reach Italy.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia 'Somebody shouts hallejah' The last 20 years have seen a surge in the number of Pentecostal churches, most of which can be found in abandoned and run-down buildings. These days, there are around 30 churches in the Castel Volturno area.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia 'Only God will help us' Pastors celebrate in a mixture of English and Italian dialect and undertake all sorts of cures, including healings and exorcisms.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia New hope B. was trafficked to Castel Volturno in 2004. She sought help from the New Hope charity in Caserta, which provides trafficking victims with education and vocational training as tailors. Today she is a happily married and the mother of two.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia Second-generation chases opportunity Former player Massimo Antonelli founded TAM TAM Basketball as a tool of integration in a place with few facilities and social activities for adolescents. At the end of 2017, the team launched a campaign to play in the official Italian league. Parliament then passed a bill changing sporting regulations, so that all children born in Italy to immigrant parents are allowed to compete.

Migrant life in Italian dystopia Dreaming of the future Victor, 14, and Fabian, 12, have both grown up in Castel Volturno, raised by Nigerian families. Despite the many problems of their hometown, they regard it as a beautiful place. Both want to become professional basketball players, but Victor also has a flair for electronics and logistics. "I would move from here. It's nice, but there are no jobs at all," he says. Author: Valerio Muscella (Castel Volturno, Italy)

Open arms, closed ports

A second migrant ship, the Open Arms, remained at sea on Sunday with 121 migrants on board after being denied permission to enter ports in Italy and Malta.

Malta took a more lenient approach, offering to allow Open Arms to disembark 39 people it rescued in the country's designated search-and-rescue area on Saturday, but rejected 121 migrants who had been picked up more than a week ago "in an area where Malta is neither responsible nor the competent coordinating authority."

"We cannot evacuate 39 people and tell the rest that they have to stay," Open Arms founder Oscar Camps said.

Camps indicated he would wait for the "definitive evacuation" for security reasons, and "to keep order on the boat."

Banned from Italy

Italy's anti-immigration interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said he had signed orders banning both rescue ships from Italy.

"Italy is not a refugee camp for Europe. Go either to Spain or Norway," he told Italian media.

A new Italian law permits fines of up €1 million ($1.1 million) against the owners of charity rescue ships that enter Italian waters without authorization.

Read more: Restart Mediterranean migrant rescue missions, UN bodies tell Europe

kw/jlw (AP, AFP)

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