Italy bans two NGO ships after breaking new law: “Lifeboats are not ferries for migrants” | outside

The Italian authorities have crippled two German rescue ships until further notice. The crews of NGO ships brought many boat passengers to Italy on Friday. In doing so, they violated the law of the radical right-wing government in Rome.

More than 50,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by boat since the beginning of the year, up from about 19,600 in the same period last year, according to official figures released by Italy’s Interior Ministry. Thousands of immigrants are expected. Italy’s far-right Giorgia Meloni government, which previously announced it would stem the flow of migrants on boats, would rather not see them come.

Loss of time

The new law, approved in February, stipulates that rescue ships must sail to port immediately after a rescue operation. Moreover, the authorities decide which port it is and often not in relation to the nearest port. Ships are sometimes sent hundreds of kilometers away. For example, they cannot perform several operations in a row and lose a lot of time.

March archive photo. A migrant boat packed with people during a rescue operation off the coast of Calabria. © AFP

violations

One of the ships, the Mare*Go, said it had rescued 37 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea on Friday. They landed in Lampedusa, although the authorities had assigned the port of Trapani in Sicily. However, the organization says the ship was unable to take care of the refugees rescued during the long voyage to Trapani. That’s why we decided to go to Lampedusa.

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The second ship, “Sea-Eye 4” of the aid organization of the same name, brought 49 people to Ortona in Abruzzo on Friday. The crew says they’ve saved 17 people in the past few days and 32 on Wednesday, so they’ve performed more than one operation. The Italian Coast Guard said that after the rescue, ‘Sea-Eye 4’ should have located Ortona’s course immediately.

Now the two ships are tied up until further notice. The NGO told Reuters that the Mary * Jo will be blocked for at least 20 days in Lampedusa. The organization also expects a fine.

File photo from December.  Rescued migrants aboard the Sea-Eye 4 in the port of Pozzallo.
File photo from December. Rescued migrants aboard the Sea-Eye 4 in the port of Pozzallo. © Environmental Protection Agency

Strong increase

The Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, said in December last year that it was necessary to take measures against “charity ships” at sea, to prevent lifeboats from serving as “ferries for migrants”.

However, the new rules of the government in Rome were not yet able to curb the large influx of migrants across the Mediterranean. on the contrary. Italy has been dealing with a surge of refugees arriving across the Mediterranean for weeks.

April archive photo.  The Tunisian Coast Guard stops migrants at sea as they attempt to cross into Italy.
April archive photo. The Tunisian Coast Guard stops migrants at sea as they attempt to cross into Italy. © Reuters

The French minister was written off

At the beginning of this month, Meloni was criticized by French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin. “Melloni leads a far-right government with friends of Le Pen, but fails to address the immigration issues on which she was elected,” said Darmanin.

Many immigrants continue to France. Darmanin said, “Yes, there is an increase in the number of immigrants, especially minors, in the south of France. But the truth is that there is a political situation in Tunisia that causes many children to leave for Italy, and Italy is managing this migration pressure.”

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Photo from the beginning of this month.  Additional controls at the border between France and Italy in combating the increasing flow of migrants between the two countries.
Photo from the beginning of this month. Additional controls at the borders between France and Italy in combating the increasing flow of migrants between the two countries. © Photo News

Tunisia is an important transit country for migrants trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean, but a significant number also come from Tunisia itself. The country suffers from debt, inflation and shortages of basic commodities.

Image from April.  The Tunisian coast guard stopped migrants in the port of Sfax.  Several boats were captured in the background.
Image from April. The Tunisian coast guard stopped migrants in the port of Sfax. Several boats were captured in the background. © Reuters

Denton Watson

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