The Norwegian government, after months of criticism for being slow to respond to the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, confirmed Monday it will send one merchant ship to the area this summer.
The vessel will take part in the EU’s Triton rescue operation, after Norway was asked to provide a ship from August 1 or possibly earlier.
The head of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association told state broadcaster NRK that it was prepared to send several vessels on short notice and was just waiting for the government to make a decision. Prime Minister Erna Solberg told NRK that since Norway was not in charge of the operation, it had to wait for requests for assistance.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, meanwhile, was traveling to Rome on Tuesday for meetings with Italy’s foreign minister. The two were expected to discuss the refugee crisis, which gets worse with each passing day. The capsizing of a boat filled with refugees over the weekend is now believed to have killed more than 900 people, while another boat filled with around 300 people capsized on Monday.
Brende also planned to have a meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who acts as prime minister for the Vatican, and with the director general of FAO, the UN’s organization for nutrition and agriculture.