The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) announced Monday, January 2, to rescue a boat of migrants in distress, fearing this fact of violating the new law on rescues at sea of the far-right Italian government.
We are heading to 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.
The spokesman said he fears trouble with Italian authorities over a new law that came into force on Monday, which aims to limit the number of people brought ashore by limiting the number of rescue operations NGOs can carry out in a sea trip. Rescues must be approved by Rome, which can then order NGOs not to rescue migrants, according to Maurizio Debanne.
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Earlier on Monday, MSF posted a series of tweets signifying that it only rescues boats in distress at the request of Italian authorities.
The NGO added that Rome had asked for an opportunity not to intervene, because the situation was "
managed by Libya
The Geo Barents obeyed and started heading for the port of Taranto (Italy), with 85 people rescued at sea on board.
- Three shipwrecked migrants died in the Channel, 43 were saved
The ship then received an alert from Alarm Phone, an emergency line for migrants in distress, reporting a boat in difficulty on the route of the Geo Barents.
We immediately asked permission to intervene from the Italian authorities, but we received no response
," said Maurizio Debanne.
If we find the boat and carry out a rescue without permission, Italy could theoretically consider that we have violated the new law
But according to international laws and maritime conventions, we are obliged to help those who are in danger
,” he stressed.
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The Geo Barents did not deviate from its route to search for migrants, insisted Maurizio Debanne, pointing out that the people in distress were on the way to the port.
The far-right government of Giorgia Meloni came to power in October promising to stop the arrival of migrants in Italy (more than 105,000 in 2022, according to the Interior Ministry).