Italy at odds with German NGO over migrants

Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Italy is at odds with German NGO SOS Humanity over disembarkation of migrants, with the NGO’s Humanity 1 vessel docked in Port of Catania in Sicily.

Humanity 1 and two more vessels brought more than 1,000 migrants to Italy after receiving permission to dock, according to Reuters reporting on Sunday.

After a medical inspection, Italian authorities allowed migrants in urgent need of medical care and minors to disembark on Sunday, 144 of 179 on board the Humanity 1.

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi announced on Friday that authorities will send Humanity 1 out of Italy’s territorial waters after migrants allowed to disembark do so.

Mirka Schaefer, SOS Humanity advocacy officer, stated that the decision not to allow some migrants to disembark “deprives them of both their right to freedom and their right to go ashore in a place of safety.”

The NGO stated that the remaining 35 migrants on Humanity 1 were in poor health and refused to leave port, warning that Italy was violating international law.

Other vessels

The vessel Geo Barents operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) docked in Catania this weekend. The Italian government announced it would allow only people in need of medical care to disembark.

MSF stated that “selective and partial disembark, as proposed by the Italian authorities, is not to be considered legal under maritime law conventions.”

According to Piantedosi, the NGOs should take the migrants to the country under whose flags their ship sails. SOS Humanity disagrees, pointing out that Humanity 1 picked up the migrants at sea, which qualifies them for disembarkation at a safe port.

On the other hand, the Italian government points to the EU Dublin Regulation, according to which asylum seekers are to stay in the first bloc member they enter.

Piantedosi pointed out that migrants first entered Germany as the Humanity 1 flies the German flag, stressing that Berlin will have to take care of the migrants. The Geo Barents flies the Norwegian flag.

In the last week or so, thousands of migrants crossed the Mediterranean and reached Italy, either in fishing boats or rescued by authorities, according to The Guardian reporting on Sunday.

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