France denies asylum to more than half of the migrants on the ‘Ocean Viking’.

Arrival of the ‘Ocean Viking’ at the port of Toulon, France. – Gredab/Le Pictorium Agency via Z / DPA

French authorities have rejected the asylum requests of 123 of the 234 migrants who arrived aboard the rescue ship ‘Ocean Viking’, which called at the port of Toulon in southern France, after Malta and Italy refused to allow it entry.

The Minister of the Interior, Geráld Darmanin, has confirmed the figures to the Council of State, days after he anticipated the expulsion of at least 44 of the migrants and even advocated to do it as soon as possible, with transfers towards the countries of origin.

The case led to a political struggle with Italy and, once on the ground, has caused legal chaos for France. A court in Aix-en-Provence ruled this week that many of the migrants waiting in a courtroom for their cases to be resolved could remain in detention, which resulted in the abandonment of dozens of people as early as Thursday, according to Le Monde.

The confusion is replicated in the case of unaccompanied minors, as 44 were initially taken care of initially in Toulon but at least 26 have already «absconded» from the hotel to which they had been transferred, according to the president of the Var departmental council, Jean-Louis Masson. «We have no power to hold them,» he explained to ‘Le Figaro’.

The authorities have explained that they are mostly minors of Eritrean origin and assume that their aim is to continue on to other European countries such as Germany, Norway or Sweden.

France had authorized the docking of the ‘Ocean Viking’ under the premise of a subsequent distribution of the migrants on board, in such a way that the country would only take charge of a third part. The rest would be distributed among eleven other countries, including Germany, which undertook to take on another third.