About fifty migrants in distress rescued by the Italian Coast

About fifty migrants in distress rescued by the Italian Coast Guard

The MSF ship was warned earlier today that 45 to 50 people lost at sea need assistance.

A charity that monitors migrant boats in the Mediterranean said Monday (2 January) the Italian coast guard had evacuated around 50 people to safety after repeated calls for help. Alarm Phone, which operates an emergency number for migrants in distress, said on Twitter “relieved to confirm that the Italian Coast Guard has finally rescued” the people who began calling for help on Sunday. No further information was given about those who were rescued.

The NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Monday it was on its way to rescue a migrant boat in distress, fearing it would violate the Italian government’s new law on sea rescue. “We are on our way to the boat in danger to help,” MSF spokesman Maurizio Debanne told AFP after the NGO’s ship, the Geo Barents, was warned that 45 to 50 people at sea got lost, needed help. “We immediately asked the Italian authorities for permission to intervene, but we received no response,” he said. “According to international laws and conventions on the law of the sea, we are obliged to help those who are in danger,” he stressed.

This intervention could have turned the charity against the Italian authorities because of a new law that came into force on Monday, which aims to limit the number of people brought ashore by limiting the number of rescue operations that NGOs are involved in be able to carry out a sea voyage. The NGO then indicated that they were no longer looking for the boat. MSF posted a series of tweets earlier Monday suggesting that it is only rescuing boats in distress at the request of Italian authorities. The organization added that Rome had asked for a way not to intervene as the situation was “managed by Libya”.

The new decree was signed by the President on Monday and will now go through Parliament to be turned into law within 60 days, where it can be amended. The far-right government of Giorgia Meloni came to power in October and promised to stop the arrival of migrants in Italy (more than 105,000 in 2022, according to the Interior Ministry).

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