During a march organized by the Fermare la strage movement, suddenly! (“Stop the massacre, now!”) on the beach of Steccato di Cutro (Italy), March 11, 2023. GIANLUCA CHININEA / AFP
Two weeks after the tragedy, the sea continues to give up bodies. Sunday March 12, on the beach of Steccato di Cutro in Calabria (South), a 79th victim was identified. A child, who is one of the castaways who died after their boat broke up not far from the coast on February 26 at dawn. In the peninsula, the anger has hardly subsided in recent days against the government of Giorgia Meloni, deemed incapable of having prevented the tragedy.
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Evidenced by this scene, Thursday, March 9, where residents of Cutro threw stuffed animals at the cars of the head of government and her cabinet when they arrived in the city to hold an exceptionally relocated council of ministers. A much criticized advice, between opportunism and communication stunt, at the end of which the adoption of a new decree regulating migratory flows was announced. “We will pursue smugglers all over the globe,” Giorgia Meloni thundered to reporters.
Among the flagship measures of this new security tightening are in fact penalties of up to thirty years’ imprisonment against smugglers, who lead migrants to death, or the facilitation of the expulsion of foreigners sentenced by the courts. But the text does not address the theme at the heart of the debates that have been agitating Italy for two weeks: rescue operations at sea.
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“The two major issues of rescue at sea and the possibility of opening safe humanitarian corridors are totally absent from the latest decree, regrets Gianfranco Shiavone, president of the Italian Consortium of Solidarity (ICS), an aid NGO for asylum seekers, based in Trieste, in the north-east of Italy. The government shows complete indifference to these issues. »
Along with more than forty other associations, including Doctors Without Borders, SOS Mediterranean or Emergency, the ICS filed a complaint against the government before the prosecutor’s office in Crotone, Calabria, demanding that clarifications be made on the dysfunctions that led to the shipwreck. On the night of February 25 to 26, two patrol boats from the Guardia di finanza, the Italian customs police, had nevertheless left the coast towards the sinking boat, before turning back in front of a stormy sea.
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Due to reports from Frontex, the European border surveillance agency, whose plane had spotted a large number of migrants in distress, it was the coastguards who should have been sent to sea, during a procedure relief official who mobilizes the appropriate means. “It is a serious mistake to consider rescue operations as police operations,” laments Admiral Vittorio Alessandro, former spokesman for the Italian coast guard.
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