Sunday, July 14, 2024
Sunday, July 14, 2024
Home » Georgia Meloni faces first migration test from two NGO rescue boats

Georgia Meloni faces first migration test from two NGO rescue boats

by Ceyxun Aghanazarov
0 comment

Vessels carrying at least 380 people could ask Italian authorities to disembark them in Sicily safe port

Two NGO rescue boats carrying hundreds of asylum seekers in the central Mediterranean are expected to face the first test of migration policy under Italy’s new far-right government after Rome threatened to prevent them from entering Italian waters.

The Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, operated by the NGO SOS Mediterranée, has more than 200 people onboard. The other vessel, Humanity One, flying the German flag and run by the German charity SOS Humanity, is carrying about 180. Most left Libya on small boats. Both ships could ask the Italian authorities for authorisation to disembark their passengers in a safe port in Sicily.

Italy’s new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who leads Brothers of Italy, a party with neo-fascist origins, and her government were sworn in on Saturday. Meloni, who once said Italy should “repatriate migrants back to their countries and then sink the boats that rescued them”, has promised to introduce hardline measures to block the arrival of asylum seekers from north Africa.

Deflecting references to her recent call for a naval blockade against immigrants from north Africa, in a statement on Tuesday, ahead of a confidence vote in her new government, Meloni said she wanted to pursue a path that had “not been taken until today: stopping illegal departures, finally breaking up the trafficking of human beings in the Mediterranean”.

The decision on whether or not to disembark those onboard the two NGO vessels will rest, however, with the new interior minister. The post, which Matteo Salvini, who made high-profile moves to block such arrivals at Italian ports, had wanted to reassume, was given to Matteo Piantedosi, a technocrat backed by all parties. Piantedosi, who has said “governing migration is a priority”, sent a note to police departments and port authorities on Tuesday in which he wrote that the two ships were failing to “follow the rules in matters of security, border control and combating illegal immigration” and that the government could ban the vessels from entering Italian territorial waters.

It is not yet clear whether Italy would prevent disembarkation or if it would block vessels from entering Italian waters and transfer their passengers on to Italian coast guard boats.

Piantedosi, who worked as Salvini’s chief of staff when the latter was interior minister from June 2018 to September 2019, played a crucial role in the earlier policy of preventing asylum seekers from disembarking in Italian ports, a policy eventually ended by following governments. Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Agrigento initially investigated Piantedosi on charges of kidnapping those who had been prevented from docking in August 2018. The charges were eventually dropped and he was subsequently removed from the list of people under investigation.

Salvini, the leader of the League, a junior partner in the new coalition government, faces the same charges in a case in Palermo after he prevented 147 asylum seekers on the NGO ship Open Arms from disembarking. Although he could face up to 15 years in jail, Salvini said he would continue to “defend Italy’s borders”.

Salvini was appointed infrastructure minister last week, a position that gives him a say in closing ports and preventing NGO ships carrying migrants from docking.

The bodies of two men and two women were recovered off the Italian island of Lampedusa on Monday. The four had been missing since a boat carrying about 30 people sank 24 nautical miles south of Sicily on Sunday. The body of a newborn girl was found the day before after another boat capsized off Lampione, an uninhabited islet.

Almost 20,000 people have died or gone missing since 2014 in the central Mediterranean, the most unsafe passage to Europe and one of the deadliest borders in the world.

Source: The Guardian

You may also like

Soledad is the Best Newspaper and Magazine WordPress Theme with tons of options and demos ready to import. This theme is perfect for blogs and excellent for online stores, news, magazine or review sites. Buy Soledad now!

Bakunovosti, A Media Company – All Right Reserved.