German NGO: 89 migrants have been able to disembark in Italy

ROME (HPD) — A German NGO said its ship docked in southern Italy early Tuesday and disembarked 89 people rescued at sea, ending a chapter in the migration saga that continues due to rules of the new Italian far-right government.

On its social media profiles, Mission Lifeline posted videos of the 80-foot (25-meter) Rise Above docking in Reggio Calabria, noting that the “odyssey of 89 passengers and nine crew members on board appears to be over.” In a later statement, she said they were the last rescued people still on the ship.

The group had been waiting at sea for days to be assigned a port by Italy after entering the country’s territorial waters without consent over the weekend due to rough seas. Six of the original 95 passengers had previously been evacuated for medical reasons.

The new far-right government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has taken a hard line towards private non-governmental organizations that operate migrant rescue boats in the central Mediterranean. The authorities have given instructions for the boats to go to port, where the authorities only allow the disembarkation of people they consider vulnerable.

Italian authorities insist that the boats must return to international waters with those who are not considered vulnerable and that the countries under whose flag they sail must welcome the migrants.

Mission Lifeline spokeswoman Hermine Poschmann said she did not know why the Rise Above was able to disembark its passengers, something that three other vessels in the same situation have not been able to do.

The NGO cited Italian press reports that the executive determined the ship was an “emergency case at sea.” But the spokeswoman did not say the group had declared an emergency or launched a distress call.

The Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Piantedosi, laid the foundations for closing the country’s ports to this type of vessel by drawing up measures that maintain that the groups were failing to comply with the procedure and by not coordinating their operations properly.

Poschmann said Mission Lifeline followed the same search and rescue procedure as the other ships.

Two other NGO boats are docked in Catania, in Sicily. One has 35 people on board, who Italy is not allowing to go down, and the other 214. Both have refused to leave, saying that under international law, people rescued at sea are vulnerable and have the right to a safe port.

Prisoners of desperation, two Syrian men jumped into the sea from one of the boats, the Geo Berents, on Monday and a third jumped in later to try to save them, reported Doctors Without Borders. All were rescued and spent the night on the pier, where they were said to be in good health, said Maurizio Debanne, an MSF spokesman.

A fourth ship, the Ocean Viking, operated by SOS Mediterranee, remains in international waters off Sicily with 234 people on board. His first rescue was 17 days ago.

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