On board the German NGO Humanity 1, 179 migrants, more than a hundred of whom are minors, claimed to have submitted 11 applications each to the Maltese and Italian authorities for permission to dock. 11 times, port access is denied. The ship has been floating in the Mediterranean for nine days, waiting for a safe port.
A total of three ships, plus Humanity 1, the MSF and Sos Mediterrannee ships with about a thousand migrants on board, have been waiting for days about 12 miles off the southern coast of Sicily to be allowed to land.
The German government issued an official letter requesting that the migrants be helped as soon as possible and that they be allowed to return to a safe haven.
Earlier, Interior Minister Piantidosi said Italy “cannot take care of migrants who have been picked up by foreign-flagged ships and who are working systematically without coordination with the authorities”.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni went one step further. In an interview, she denounced the NGO ships’ use of maritime law. “If you come across a ship in distress by chance, you are under an obligation to help the people on board. But if you sail back and forth between the African and Italian coasts to transport migrants, you are in violation of maritime and international law.”
During her first visit to Brussels, Prime Minister Meloni made it clear to her EU colleagues last Thursday that Italy’s number one priority is protecting its external borders. Meloni supports the hard line against illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, France appears to be pretending to be a peacemaker. French Interior Minister Gerald Darmasin told French radio station BFM that his country is ready to accept some migrants from the SOS Mediterrannee. “We must not leave Italy alone with this constant flow of migrants.”
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