Italy's government moves to block migrant rescue ships as distress calls reported

The Local/AFP
The Local/AFP - [email protected]
Italy's government moves to block migrant rescue ships as distress calls reported
Italy's new interior minister is seeking to block the Ocean Viking rescue ship from entering Italian waters. Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP.

Italy's new interior minister signed a directive on Tuesday seeking to ban two migrant rescue ships from entering Italian waters, as more vessels issued distress calls off the coast of Sicily.


New minister Matteo Piantedosi, a close ally of anti-immigrant League party leader Matteo Salvini, signed a document on Tuesday banning the Ocean Viking and Humanity 1 rescue ships from entering Italian territory, according to media reports.

The conduct of the two ships, which are currently carrying 326 rescued migrants, is not "in line with the spirit of European and Italian rules on border security and control and the fight against illegal immigration," the directive stated.

It added that "the prohibition of entry into territorial waters is being evaluated," according to Skytg24, indicating that the directive is provisional and not immediately binding.


Piantedosi's move came hours before the alarm was sounded that another two fishing boats stranded off the coast of Sicily were carrying several hundred people in distress.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Italian coastguard said it had rescued 1,000 people from the boats and recovered two bodies.

While the coastguard will be able to dock in Italy, the short-term future of the two humanitarian vessels is uncertain.

The Ocean Viking is a Norwegian ship run by the SOS Méditerranée association, while Humanity 1 flies a German flag and is managed by the NGO SOS Humanity.

The embassies of both countries were reportedly contacted by the interior ministry regarding the possible ban, which Luca Casarini, head of mission of the Italian rescue organisation Mediterranea Saving Humans, called "a violation of international conventions."

Piantedosi has been described in the Italian press as the 'right-hand man' of current deputy PM Salvini, co-drafting Salvini's infamous anti-migrant 'security decrees' during the latter's tenure as interior minister from 2018-2019.

Salvini is currently charged with kidnapping and abuse of office after he blocked several migrant rescue shops from disembarking in Italy in 2019 under the League’s “closed ports” policy.

In an opening address to parliament on Tuesday, Italy's new prime minister Giorgia Meloni said she wanted to "stop illegal departures and break up human trafficking,” adding that her government intends to propose an EU naval operation to block departures from North Africa.


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Homepage 2023/03/20 14:07
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rivabella1 2022/10/27 19:04
I,m praying they keep these Charity ships out of Italian waters. Take them to Norway and Germany.

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