Italy: shipwrecked people are allowed to go ashore in Sicily – politics

Italy: shipwrecked people are allowed to go ashore in Sicily – politics

The captain of the rescue ship humanity 1 the German organization SOS Humanity stuck to its refusal to leave the port of Sicilian Catania on Tuesday. After a good two-week wait, the NGO ship was allowed to dock there on Sunday with around 180 migrants rescued from the sea. However, Italy’s right-wing government initially only allowed minors and women to go ashore and those for medical reasons. 35 men had to stay behind. You have now found out about the captain of the humanity communicated that they want to apply for asylum and the NGO has filed an urgent application to a civil court in Catania to ensure their right to apply for protection.

Late on Tuesday evening, salvation came, but not through the government: health authorities decided that 213 refugees from the rescue ship GeoBarents and the remaining 35 men from the humanity 1 allowed to go ashore for humanitarian reasons. Three men were already from the GeoBarents jumped into the water and swam to land. One had to be taken to the hospital on Tuesday with a high fever.

Some of the rescued fell silent and were deeply depressed

The mental state of the men on the ship has deteriorated drastically since they were refused permission to go ashore, Petra Krischok reported on Tuesday Süddeutsche Zeitung. The SOS Humanity spokesperson is based in Catania and has recent operations at the humanity 1 participated. Some of the men had been on the ship for more than two weeks and were now mute, passive and deeply depressed. One collapsed unconscious and had to be taken to the ambulance for treatment.

Boat people: migrants on the deck of the "humanity 1" in the port of Catania.

Migrants on the deck of the “Humanity 1” in the port of Catania.

(Photo: Salvatore Cavalli/AP)

The “selection” of those who were initially allowed to disembark was carried out in such a way that the 105 minors, including an infant, were able to leave without any problems. The others were questioned in the small on-board clinic in the presence of the on-board doctor by three doctors who had come on the ship – whether they were in pain or felt ill. Those who said no had to stay. According to Krischok, the mental state of the people was not taken into account at all. And even before arriving in Catania, the psychologist on board was busy around the clock.

One can assume that the migrants on the humanity 1 as most boat people are scared to death on the crossing that started in Libya, in completely inadequate, overcrowded boats. But above all, many of the boat people have previously experienced mistreatment, sexual violence, torture and other dramatic situations in Libya, hardly anyone who is not traumatized. This also applies to the 215 people who are also in Catania on the GeoBarents had to endure, the rescue ship of Doctors Without Borderswhich was allowed to land with 572 migrants after a long wait.

Boat refugees: Joachim Ebeling, captain of the German-flagged rescue ship Humanity 1, refuses to leave the port of Catania.

Joachim Ebeling, captain of the German-flagged rescue ship Humanity 1, refuses to leave the port of Catania.

(Photo: Salvatore Cavalli/dpa)

Humanity-1-Captain Joachim Ebeling justifies his refusal to sail with the 35 rescued by saying that according to international maritime law he is not allowed to act any differently. After that, a rescue operation is only over when the shipwrecked are safely on land. He was threatened with a fine of up to 50,000 euros for not leaving the port.

Salvini has previously refused rescue ships entry into the port

A step by the judiciary was expected on Tuesday evening, Krischok spoke of a kind of stalemate situation. SOS Humanity has filed a complaint with the Lazio Region Administrative Court in Rome against what it considers to be an unlawful decree on which the Italian government’s actions are based. Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, who is close to the Lega and now spoke of the remaining cargo on the NGO ships as “residual cargo”, issued it last week in coordination with the Defense Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure Matteo Salvini. As transport minister, the head of the Lega is responsible for ports and the coast guard. As Interior Minister in 2018/19, he had refused several rescue ships to land in Italy for weeks, even ships of the state coast guard with rescued people were affected.

The decree prohibits the Humanity 1, staying in Italian waters longer than is necessary to disembark those who are in urgent need of assistance or who are particularly vulnerable, such as minors. The position of the new government in Rome is that the respective flag states should take care of the other migrants on the rescue ships. The Interior Minister also wants the migrants to apply for asylum on board – with the flag state.

Boat refugees: The Ocean Viking with 234 rescued people on board has now asked France to enter the port.

The Ocean Viking with 234 rescued people on board has now asked France to enter the port.


The fact that private rescue ships have no legal authority to accept asylum applications and to comply with the prescribed procedures does not seem to matter to Piantedosi. Also not the question of how distant flag states the rescued on the Mediterranean Sea can come to the rescue. the Ocean Vikingg for example from SOS Méditerranée sails under the Norwegian flag. But merchant ships also take on boat people again and again, and their most common flag states include Panama, Antigua and Barbuda or Liberia. the humanity 1 runs under the German flag, diplomatic verbal notes have already been exchanged between Rome and Berlin because of it.

Italy’s government accuses the humanity 1 also alleges that she carried out unauthorized rescue operations. Krischok rejects this. SOS Humanity has published a detailed log of its communications to the sea rescue center in Rome and to Malta’s authorities. It meticulously lists distress calls and rescues, as well as all unsuccessful requests to assign a port. Another allegation is that the humanity 1 did not, as required by maritime law, head for the next safe port, but the crew wanted to bring the shipwrecked to Italy from the outset.

Only will most migrants, not only from the humanity 1 recovered in a sea area that is Libya’s search and rescue zone. But Libya is – internationally confirmed – not a safe country for migrants and refugees and therefore has no safe haven. And Malta did not respond to any notification of the Humanity1 reacts, says Petra Krischok. This coincides with what all NGOs have been reporting about the behavior of the Malteser for years. So the next safe havens for the NGOs are in Italy, which can be Calabria, but more often Sicily.

Meloni has the NGOs in his sights

Prime Minister’s Giorgia Meloni, the head of the post-fascist Fratelli d’Italia-led government in Rome, has never left any doubt that she has her sights set on the NGOS in the Mediterranean. She no longer wants to tolerate them bringing boat people to Italy and conveys that the NGOs are primarily responsible for the arrival of the migrants.

Numbers alone, such as the 35 and 215 people currently on the NGO ships in Catania, speak for the fact that the current actions are primarily serving nationalist propaganda. On the other hand, the Italian coast guard has rescued several thousand people since the right-wing government took office and brought them ashore without further ado. Ships belonging to the Carabinieri and the European border protection agency Frontex have also landed with migrants without the government in Rome causing a scandal. And in the summer, the Italian Ministry of the Interior – still under the Draghi government – determined from its statistics on boat people that only 16 percent of them come on NGO ships.

Boat refugees: Demonstrators in Catania are demanding that the refugees be allowed ashore.

Demonstrators in Catania are demanding that the refugees be allowed ashore.

(Photo: Salvatore Cavalli/dpa)

Meloni recently said that anyone who, like the NGOs, commutes with their rescue ships between the coasts of Africa and Italy to transport migrants, violates maritime law and international law and becomes a pirate ship. This was addressed in a radio interview by retired Admiral Vittorio Alessandro, who served 31 years with the Italian Coast Guard, including as their spokesman. He said: “The duty to rescue and the right to rescue are unconditional. There is no international rule restricting rescue at sea, whether you happen to be there or go there because it is deemed necessary to save lives . And the rescue ends in the next safest port.”

There is also solidarity in Catania. Among others, the archbishop of the city has the humanity 1 visited and now has groceries sent. Politicians from the opposition parties were there, and activists demonstrated loudly at the port. Pupils occupy their high school in protest against the blockade of migrants. “We are appalled by the inhumane treatment of shipwrecked people by our country’s government,” the high school students wrote in a statement.

And the organization SOS Méditerranée announced on Tuesday evening that they now had permission to land their ship in France OceanViking asked, which waits in vain for permission to land in Italy with 234 rescued people. The migrants, some of whom have been on board for 18 days, are doing drastically worse physically and mentally. Some have expressed the intention of jumping overboard out of desperation, as dangerous incidents can occur at any time. One now hopes to find a port in Corsica.

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