Rome | It kissed on the forehead, and then asked them to wait, yet. On the ship humanitarian Ocean Viking, the brief passage of an Italian doctor has been turned into a “hope” the anger of migrants who see the end of a long deadlock in the sea.
Round face and reassuring, thick mustache salt and pepper, a pat on the back or on the cheek for each, the doctor sent by the Italian government to take the pulse of the boat-ambulance SOS Mediterranean, in a state of emergency since Friday owing to tensions and violence at the edge, used the carrot and the stick. But he left to the applause of the 180 people who have wanted to keep his words that the prospect of an invasion is imminent in Italy, after nine days of blockade.
“It all depends only on you! Do not create a problem, do you bagarrez not, respect the crew, they you have saved, and it will go fast. We know that this is long, but the coronavirus slows things down in Italy, so be still and patient, their he repeated, group after group.
On Friday, the threats of a small part of the migrants towards the team of SOS Mediterranean were added to the suicide attempts and fights, forcing the NGO to demand for 44 people a medical evacuation for “psychological distress acute”, because of its presence on Saturday.
“You are not mentally ill”, has swept the doctor, who has seen burst to an argument before you even climb aboard, Saturday. “You’re just tired, stressed, annoyed. But if you continue to be aggressive, this will delay the process” of landing, he explained in his white jumpsuit anti-Covid but without a mask.
“The truth is that I don’t know how long it will take,” he insisted. But each time, the prospect of a landing, expressed on the part of an emissary of the Italian government, has raised a round of applause and made light of the faces off.
Sunday morning, the 180 migrants must be tested by the COVID-19 before being transferred Monday to another vessel in the port of the sicilian Porto Empedocle, where they will be placed in quarantine, according to the Italian ministry of the Interior.
Ahmed, Tunisia, 23-year-old has lived illegally for seven years in the suburbs of paris, had the right to reprimand in private, but came out satisfied: “He said to me, stand quiet. He wanted to be sure that there would be more of a problem and I was told that in max three days, it is finished,” he reported to a journalist of the AFP embarked on board the Ocean Viking.
The doctor did not make any promises. “But at least there, there is hope. They want us to accept. Today, tomorrow, after tomorrow, regardless,” says Emmanuel, a Ghanaian of the age of 32.
“It is good for us, he said that yes, we could go home. So there is more to do than wait”, abounds Mohammad Irshad, a Pakistani 22 years of age.
As the vast majority boarded, he was surprised at the aggressiveness of a minority. “I’m afraid that because of them, we are all in danger, we reject all. The Egyptians, Moroccans, Tunisian, they have not known the torture in Libya as we as the Black brothers or Bangladesh who are silent. They do not have the same resilience or even patience”, is growing understand it.
Since Saturday morning, the calm returned on the Ocean Viking, positioned off the coast of Sicily. In the morning, before the visit of the Italian doctor, it is even the absolute silence that reigned there, as if the events of the last few days had been that temper already forgotten.
“They are all nice, they ask me how I am going. It is almost suspicious so it is kind of a coup”, was a member of the NGO.
Now, after the reassuring words, the migrants hope of the acts.
“They think more of him because he represents Italy. Maybe we’ll win a few days of tranquility. But it is necessary that it moves, because of the placebo effect, it’s not going to take a long time,” observes Anne, the doctor from SOS Mediterranean.
“What we need is land, now”, slice Nicholas Romaniuk, the head of operations on board. “And this must be done before there is a death.”