The group had repeatedly requested Italy to assign a safe harbor for the 25-metre (80-foot) cargo vessel after conducting three rescues on Thursday, saying it entered Italian waters without authorization over the weekend due to the rough sea. Six of the original 95 rescued people on board were evacuated at sea for medical reasons.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s new far-right government has taken a hard line with non-governmental organizations that operate private migrant rescue ships in the central Mediterranean, stressing that it is the responsibility of the states whose flags the ships carry to protect the migrants. to care . In recent days, it ordered two other ships to ports, but only allowed passengers deemed vulnerable to disembark, leaving hundreds more on board.
Italian authorities are urging those boats to return to international waters, but the boats have refused to give way, saying all passengers are vulnerable and international law grants them a safe haven.
Mission Lifeline spokeswoman Hermine Poschmann said she did not know why the Rise Above was allowed to disembark all of its remaining passengers. A fourth ship remains in international waters for the 17th day, his requests for a safe harbor are tacitly answered.
The Germany-based Mission Lifeline quoted Italian news reports saying that the Italian government had determined the Rise Above to be a “emergency at sea.” But Poschmann said the group has never declared an emergency or mayday.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi laid the groundwork for closing Italian ports to humanitarian rescue ships by drafting measures alleging that two aid organizations — SOS Humanity and SOS Mediteranee — were violating procedures by failing to properly coordinate their rescues. The directive did not include a Mission Lifeline. Poschmann said Mission Lifeline followed the same search and rescue procedures as the other ships.
The German NGO SOS Humanity confirmed on Tuesday that the 35 people still on board Humanity 1 have submitted accelerated political asylum applications through a court in Catania. It said the people’s condition was deteriorating every day, with some refusing proper meals and becoming more upset.
In desperation, two Syrian men jumped into the sea on Monday from one of the ships, the Geo Berents, and a third went in afterward to try and rescue them, MSF, which operates the ship, said. One of the men was taken from the ship by ambulance on Tuesday after she developed a fever.
The charity said the man, identified only as Ahmed, had fled Syria to Libya a year ago and had been subjected to abuse and violence in a Libyan prison, where he ended up after his first attempted crossing was intercepted by the Libyan coastguard.
“He told us he has had severe back pain ever since as a result of the violence he has endured,” said Maurizio Debanne, a spokesman for the aid group.
Colleen Barry contributed from Milan.
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