MILAN (AP) – Charities that rescue migrants at sea complained on Thursday that new measures adopted by Italy’s right-wing government will limit their rescue capacity, setting lives at risk.
The government this week approved rules requiring rescue ships to request a port immediately after each rescue, and sail immediately to it once assigned without waiting for other rescues.
“With the new rules imposed by the Italian government on non-governmental organisation (NGO) boats, we will be forced to leave rescue zones uncovered with the inevitable increase in the number of deaths,” Doctors Without Borders said in a tweet.
The charity Emergency argued that more boats will be pushed back by the Libyan Coast Guard to Libya, where human rights groups said migrants face torture, sexual violence and extortion at the hands of guards in detention centres.
Under the Italian decree, charities not abiding by the rules risk fines of up to EUR50,000 and could have their vessels impounded for repeat offences.
So far this year, more than 103,000 migrants have arrived in Italy, up 55 per cent over last year, according to the Interior Ministry. Nearly 1,400 people have died or are missing and presumed dead in the deadly central Mediterranean Sea crossing this year, according to the United Nations migration agency’s Missing Migrants Report.