Dispute between NGO and rescue ship sparks tension between Italy and France – Politics

(ANSAmed) – ROME, NOVEMBER 9 – The tough stance Prime Minister Giorgio Meloni’s government has taken on NGO-run search and rescue (SAR) vessels has sparked tensions between Rome and Paris, the French government castigating Italy’s refusal to allow the Ocean Viking carrying 234 asylum seekers to dock in an Italian port.

The Ocean Viking was heading for French territorial waters on Wednesday after Italy ignored calls for a safe harbor for around three weeks following rescues of people in the southern Mediterranean.

“The ship is currently in Italian territorial waters, there are extremely clear European rules which have been accepted by the Italians,” French government spokesman Olivier Veran told AFP.

He added that “the current attitude of the Italian government, in particular its statements and its refusal to accept the ship”, was “unacceptable”. On Tuesday, Italian authorities finally allowed around 250 asylum seekers to leave two other NGO-run ships, Humanity 1 and the Geo Barents.

They docked in Catania over the weekend, but the government initially only allowed those deemed vulnerable to disembark and told the ships to return to international waters with others still on board.

SOS Méditerranée, the French NGO that runs the Ocean Viking, said it is expected to reach international waters off Corsica by Thursday after its pleas to Italy for a safe harbor were met with a backlash. “deafening silence”.

“We are still off Sicily, but we are advancing towards Corsica where the first safe port is located, apart from those of Italy, which has not assigned any to us,” said SOS Méditerranée activists on board. of the ship.

“We are going to leave the Italian SAR zone and reach French waters and it is not excluded that Marseille is the final destination”.

On Tuesday, Meloni thanked France for “sharing responsibility for the migration emergency, which so far has been on the backs of Italy and a few other states”, after it was announced that Paris had accepted to accept the Ocean Viking.

“The immigration emergency is a European problem and it must be treated as such,” she said. (ANS Amed).