At the request of the Italian coordination center for maritime rescue, the team of the aid organization “Doctors Without Borders” (MSF) on board the rescue ship “Geo Barents” rescued 41 people in international waters off Libya on Sunday night. The announcement was made by the NGO, which is now awaiting further instructions from the Italian authorities. Another 44 people were rescued during another operation on Monday.
The “Geo Barents” and its 85 people on board were assigned to the town of Taranto (Taranto), in Apulia, as the disembarkation port, MSF said. This is the first rescue operation since the approval of an Italian government decree establishing rules of conduct for NGO ships in the Mediterranean.
The office in Rome decided last week that ships should proceed to port “immediately” after a rescue at sea, rather than spending more time searching the sea for other refugee boats. NGOs must also inform migrants rescued on board their ships that they can seek protection anywhere in the European Union. In case of infringement, captains incur a fine of up to 50,000 euros. In case of repeated violations, the ship can be confiscated.
Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government has targeted the activities of humanitarian organizations, accusing them of working to benefit human traffickers. Around 102,000 migrants arrived in Italy in 2022, according to previous Interior Ministry data.
Meanwhile, 90 people were rescued by the Coast Guard in the Ionian Sea, near the port of Roccella Jonica, in Calabria, in southern Italy. They are people of different nationalities from the Middle East. This is the first landing in 2023, but given the good weather conditions, new arrivals are not excluded.