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HomeE.U.Italy confiscates charity ship carrying migrants after several rescue operations

Italy confiscates charity ship carrying migrants after several rescue operations

Italian authorities impounded a ship run by a Spanish charity organisation after it had carried out numerous rescues of migrants stranded in the Mediterranean Sea, according to Reuters.

The Open Arms group reported it carried out three rescue operations on Saturday, picking up 176 people at sea, including more than 90 unaccompanied minors. The boat docked in the central Italian port of Carrara on Wednesday to disembark the migrants.

After questioning the captain and head of mission about the incident, authorities placed the ship in detention for 20 days, Open Arms informed. The group added that they expected to be fined between 3,000 and 10,000 euros (US$3,155-10,519).

A spokesman for the group told Reuters that the sanctions were prompted by an alleged breach of rules requiring charity ships to depart for port immediately after a rescue. Such a restriction prevents groups from organising multiple operations at sea.

Three charity vessels, including Open Arms, had already been temporarily seized in August.

It is the duty of the captain of any vessel to assist shipwrecked persons whose lives are in danger and that failure to rescue is a serious offence.

Italy’s right-wing Giorgia Meloni government, which had taken a hardline stance on illegal immigration, passed new rules against rescue boats in February. It is still trying to curb the flow of migrants from Africa.

The government believes that the availability of life boats encourages people to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. Charitable organisations deny this, saying that migrants go to sea anyway.

The number of migrants arriving in Italy this year has almost doubled compared to 2022. More than 135,000 people have disembarked in 2023, compared to around 72,400 in the same period last year, according to official statistics.

($1 = 0.9507 euros)

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