Guardia Costiera/AFPEOne of the migrant boats, in a photograph taken by the Italian Coast Guard
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 17:07
More than 1,200 migrants have been brought ashore in southern Italy in a rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea. It is an “exceptionally complex” rescue operation, according to the Italian coastguard.
The large group of people is taken off overcrowded boats in severe weather conditions. All persons on board of one of the three ships were rescued. The rescue operation for the two remaining boats is in its final phase, Italian media report.
Last night, the first ship carrying migrants reached the port of Crotone, in the region of Calabria. Those on board had run into problems due to bad weather and rough seas; the migrants would use boats that are barely seaworthy. The first batch of rescued migrants consisted largely of Afghan men and a few minors.
Restrictions on aid organizations
The rescue operation is under a magnifying glass because of the drama at the end of February, when more than 70 people died after their boat capsized off the coast of Calabria. The coastguard would have been called in too late to rescue the group of migrants. The Public Prosecution Service is investigating the matter.
Every year, tens of thousands of migrants venture across from North Africa to Europe. In Italy, the counter is provisionally at 15,800 this year. That is more than double compared to the previous two years in this period.
Prime Minister Meloni this week announced tougher penalties for people smugglers. She also wants to take a tougher approach to illegal migration in other ways. For example, she has imposed restrictions on aid organizations, allowing them to deposit fewer migrants in Italy.
The expectation is that the new legislation will not change much, because aid organizations are responsible for only 10 to 15 percent of the total number of migrants that reach Italy by sea.
Leave a Reply