Rome’s 3 Migrant Rescue Ship Seizures in 48 Hours

Two migrant rescue vessels belonging to NGOs have been seized by Italian authorities, bringing the number of vessels seized to three in just 48 hours. In question: a new controversial legislation, which obliges ships to return to a port chosen by the authorities, with each rescue.
Italy has seized two more migrant rescue vessels accused of breaching controversial new legislation, bringing the total to three in 48 hours, relevant NGOs said on Wednesday. The Spanish NGO Open Arms said it was fined 10,000 euros, and the ship bearing its name was seized on Tuesday after ignoring instructions from Italian authorities not to carry out two rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

For its part, the German NGO Sea-Eye said it had received a fine of some 3,000 euros, and its ship SEA-EYE 4 was seized after carrying out three rescue operations, which according to it made it possible to collect 114 people. . Both vessels violated a recent law requiring NGO vessels to return to a port chosen by the Italian authorities between rescues.

More than 2,000 people have died attempting the crossing since the start of the year
Monday, the ship Aurora, of the German NGO Sea-Watch, had been seized under another provision of this law, for having landed migrants in a port not chosen by the Italian authorities. This new legislation was decided this year by the government of far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in a bid to bring down the number of arrivals, even though NGO ships represent only a fraction of the total number of arrivals. migrants landing in Italy.

More than 105,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, more than double compared to 2022 over the same period, according to figures from the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, more than 2,000 have died trying to cross the Mediterranean since January, according to the UN.

“If we hadn’t done it, there would have been deaths”
Open Arms said its ship was heading to the port of Carrara, chosen by the Italian authorities, when the crew learned of a distress call from Alarm Phone, a number used by migrants encountering difficulties during their crossing. This alert “concerned two boats in danger south of our position”, information confirmed by an NGO surveillance plane.

In the absence of an immediate response from the Italian authorities to this distress call, the Open Arms ship explains that it followed international maritime law and carried out the rescue. The ship was then ordered “to abandon the search and continue to the chosen port, given that the authorities had taken the situation in hand”, but without giving a time limit according to Open Arms.

The NGO therefore continued on its way and collected 132 people on Friday during a two-hour operation “during which no ship of the authorities appeared, confirming once again that these people were left adrift”. The boat then traveled to Carrara, where it was seized.

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