New Italian government remains adamant in its anti-migration stance

Migrants disembark the Geo Barents ship of Médicins Sans Frontieres in Catania, Sicily, on November 6. (MTI/EPA/ANSA, Orietta Scardino)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

The new Italian government led by Giorgia Meloni remains determined to deliver on its anti-immigration policy despite continued efforts by NGOs to undermine it.

Following a joint decision by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Defense, 144 migrants were allowed to disembark the German flagged civilian vessel Humanity 1 on Sunday. The Italians have ensured the safety of those in need of medical care, women, and minors, in compliance with their humanitarian obligations.

According to the Italian decree, the civilian ship Humaity 1 was to leave the port of Catania with the remaining adult males on board and head for Germany. However, the captain of the ship decided not to leave the port of Catania, disregarding the order and appealing to the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio.

FILE – Migrants swim next to their overturned wooden boat during a rescue operation by Spanish NGO Open Arms south of the Italian Lampedusa island in the Mediterranean Sea, Aug. 11, 2022. The back-to-back shipwrecks of migrant boats off Greece that left at least 22 people dead this week has once again put the spotlight on the dangers of the Mediterranean migration route to Europe. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco, file)

SOS Humanity spokesperson Petra Krischok explained their decision by saying that the rescue operations would be completed once all the migrants had safely disembarked. In their view, the partial disembarkation authorized by the Italian government is illegal, unlawful, and unfair, as 16- to 17-year-old boys are still on board. “They have suffered the same hardships of crossing the Mediterranean as the others and have the same right to asylum,” said a spokesperson for the German NGO.

The captain of the Humaity 1, Joachim Ebeling, 59, from Bremen, said: “On board are people who have suffered inhuman and horrific experiences in the camps in Libya.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini was dismissive of the captain’s words.

“These are organized trips costing $3,000, with the money used to buy weapons and drugs,” he told RTL 102.5 radio.

On Sunday, the Norwegian-run migrant rescue boat Geo Barents was also given permission to anchor in Catania and land 357 of the 572 people on board.

According to a statement on Monday from the NGO Doctors Without Borders, which runs the boat, three of the men on board went on a hunger strike and three others jumped into the sea and swam ashore; however, the coastguard took the latter three back to the jetty near the Geo Barents and will not allow them to leave.

Two other civilian vessels, the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking and the German-flagged Rise Above, are still waiting for permission to dock off the Italian coast.

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