France and Germany pressure Italy to receive migrants

MILAN (HPD) — France and Germany are calling on Italy’s new far-right government to allow the nearly 1,000 people rescued by humanitarian groups in the central Mediterranean to reach port, some of whom have been stranded at sea for more than two weeks.

The NGOs that care for migrants rescued on three ships at sea are sounding the alarm about deteriorating conditions, such as people having to sleep on the floor despite the cold and fever.

Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, has drafted new measures alleging that non-governmental organizations breached procedure by failing to coordinate the rescues properly, a step that paves the way for the country to close its ports to them.

Piantedosi also called for the intervention of the countries under whose flag the rescue ships sail.

Italy’s position, which remains silent in the face of repeated requests for a safe harbor, has de facto stranded the three humanitarian vessels at sea. The situation is reminiscent of the policies against NGOs in the country under the command of former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who now serves as head of Infrastructure.

On the other hand, the country does allow the disembarkation of people rescued by Italian patrols, such as the 456 people who arrived in Calabria on Thursday.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday that international law provides that Italy, as the nearest port, “must let the ship in.” The official referred to the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, with 234 people on board and operated by the SOS Mediterranee group, which has one of its headquarters in France.

For its part, the German Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it asked Rome to intervene quickly to help the 179 people who are in the German-flagged Humanitarian 1. The boat is east of Sicily and carries 100 unaccompanied minors, in addition to a 7-month-old baby, according to SOS Humanity, the association that manages it.

The third ship is the Geo Barents, managed by Doctors Without Borders and also flying the Norwegian flag, which has 572 people on board, including 60 unaccompanied minors, as well as families with children and the elderly.

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