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    France, Germany press Italy to open ports to 1,000 at sea

    MILAN (AP) – France and Germany are asking Italy’s new far-right-led government to grant a safe port to nearly 1,000 people rescued by humanitarian groups in the central Mediterranean, some of whom have been stuck at sea for more than two weeks.

    Humanitarian groups caring for the rescued migrants on three ships in the central Mediterranean are sounding an alarm about deteriorating conditions, including people sleeping on floors in the cold and spreading fevers.

    Italy’s new Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi has drafted new measures alleging that the non-governmental groups (NGO) violated procedure by not properly coordinating their rescues, a step setting the groundwork for Italy to close the ports.

    Piantedosi has also asked the countries whose flags they fly to intervene. Italy’s posture, maintaining silence to repeated requests for a safe port, has effectively blocked three charity-run rescue boats at sea.

    Meanwhile, Italian authorities continue to allow arrivals of people rescued by Italian patrols, including 456 arriving in Calabria on Thursday.

    French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said yesterday that international law makes clear that Italy, as the closest port, “must let the ship in”.

    He referred to the Norway-flagged Ocean Viking with 234 people aboard operated by the group SOS Mediterranee, which has one of its headquarters in France.

    The German Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that it has asked Italy to intervene quickly to help those aboard the German-flagged Humanitarian 1, with 179 people aboard.

    Some of the 572 survivors rescued by the NGO Geo Barents rescue ship are gathered on the deck of the ship cruising in the Mediterranean Sea. PHOTO: AP
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