Italian coastguards rescue around 50 migrants in distress
As a new law aimed at limiting the number of people brought ashore came into force in Italy on Monday, a charity announced that around 50 migrants at sea, who had been calling for help since Sunday, had been able to be rescued by the Coast Guard.
A charity that monitors migrant boats in the Mediterranean said on Monday (January 2nd) the Italian coast guard had brought around 50 people to safety after repeated calls for help.
Alarm Phone, which runs an emergency line for migrants in distress, said on Twitter “relieved to confirm that the Italian coastguard has finally rescued” the people, who had started calling for help on Sunday. No additional information was provided on those rescued.
The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said earlier Monday that it was on its way to rescue a migrant boat in distress, fearing it would violate the far-right Italian government’s new law on sea rescues.
“We are heading towards the boat in danger, to help,” MSF press officer Maurizio Debanne told AFP after the NGO’s ship, the Geo Barents, was warned that 45 to 50 people lost at sea needed help. “We immediately asked permission to intervene from the Italian authorities, but we received no response,” he said. “According to international laws and maritime conventions, we are obliged to help those who are in danger,” he said.
This intervention could have pitted the charity against the Italian authorities because of a new law which came into force on Monday, which aims to limit the number of people brought ashore by limiting the number of rescue operations that NGOs can carry out in a sea trip.
The NGO then indicated that it was no longer looking for the boat. Earlier on Monday, MSF posted a series of tweets signifying that it only rescues boats in distress at the request of Italian authorities. The organization added that Rome had asked for an opportunity not to intervene, because the situation was “managed by Libya”.
The new decree was signed by the president on Monday, and is now going through parliament to be converted into law within 60 days, during which time it can undergo modifications.
The far-right government of Giorgia Meloni came to power in October promising to halt the arrival of migrants to Italy (more than 105,000 in 2022, according to the Interior Ministry).