ITALY: 35 asylum seekers were blocked from disembarking from their boat in Italy’s new far-right government’s first test of its immigration policy because they were not eligible for asylum, according to the administration.
Rome permitted the SOS Humanity-operated ship Humanity 1, carrying 179 people, to dock at Catania, Sicily, on Saturday night.
As of that time, only children and those who were ill or otherwise considered “vulnerable” were being let off the ship.
About 144 passengers were transferred to a reception center on the island following an onboard medical examination. In contrast, the remaining passengers remained on board and would likely be pushed back into international waters.
Brothers of Italy leader Meloni, who formerly advocated “repatriate migrants back to their countries and then sink the boats that rescued them,” has pledged to enact tough measures to stop the entry of asylum seekers from north Africa. Brothers of Italy is a group with neo-fascist roots.
Matteo Piantedosi, Italy’s new interior minister, is adamant that the refugees and migrants must be taken by the nations whose flag the NGO-operated ships fly.
The Humanity 1’s operator, SOS Humanity, contested Italy’s decision, claiming that since every passenger had been saved at sea, they were automatically entitled to a safe port under international law.
The Italian authorities requested the group’s doctor to select people in poor health, according to Wasil Schauseil, an NGO representative. According to our doctor, she would not decide because “everyone is in a vulnerable situation,” according to Schauseil.
After a while, two Italian doctors boarded the ship, and they began to examine passengers to see who had any illnesses that would make them vulnerable.
900 more rescued asylum seekers were being transported on three other ships, two of which were in Italian territorial waters and one in international waters. Despite “critical” conditions on board, appeals for a safe port have gone unanswered.
The NGOs noted that people were sleeping on floors and decks, scabies and fever-producing illnesses were becoming more common, and food and medical supplies were running low. Some people have spent longer than two weeks aboard the ships.
To escape storm-swollen seas, the German-operated Rise Above and the Norwegian-flagged Geo Barents entered Italian waters east of Sicily over the weekend.
The Ocean Viking, run by the European search-and-rescue organization SOS Mediteranee, with 234 people on board, remained in international waters south of the Strait of Messina.
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