Thousands of Migrants in Limbo After Italy Closes Borders (Again)

ROME – Italy’s new far-right prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, was addressing parliament when an SOS call rang out on Tuesday. Two wooden fishing boats carrying around 1,300 migrants and refugees need to be rescued between Italy and Malta. 12 people have already died due to dehydration. Several had jumped overboard. The engines had stopped working for a long time, and the supplies of drinking water and food were almost exhausted.

Meloni’s new interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, said the border was closed to NGO rescue ships, as various humanitarian organizations gave the Italian and Maltese coastguards details on how to find the registered vessels. It means that it has a Norwegian flag Sea Viking German flag Humanity I-already loaded with a total of 300 people rescued from other sinking ships – they “will not be allowed to enter Italian waters because they violate the law and do not comply with the spirit of European and Italian rules on border security and control” to combat illegal immigration.

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With rescue ships unable to disembark the migrants and refugees they have already rescued, they certainly don’t have room to save another 1,300 before it’s too late.

Almost 24 hours after Meloni said, 1,300 people were still at sea. Helpline, a humanitarian group that acts as an informal relay between migrants on board, rescue ships and coastguards, said their requests from Malta and Italy had been rejected. They tried to keep in touch with the people on board, but cell phone battery life would soon make that impossible. “We have spoken to people on the boat who are in fear of sinking,” they tweeted early Wednesday. “We alerted the authorities 15 hours ago, why is there no rescue yet?”

The reason that passing merchant ships, NGO ships, and even the Italian coast guard and navy could not save the increasingly desperate people was simple. They could be there for weeks after boarding the plane after Italy promised “no more” to arriving migrants. The Sea Viking and Humanity I A formal request for a safe harbor was made and both were denied. Another viable option for them is to go to Malta.

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Far-right Matteo Salvini did the same when he became interior minister in 2018, having to travel to Spain for three days to find safety on one rescue ship, many fleeing unimaginable poverty and war. , political persecution. Rescue ships were not allowed to reach Italy until his government fell months later.

A spokesperson for the humanitarian group told The Daily Beast that the main reason why so many people are on the boats, which usually only carry a few hundred passengers, is because the boats left Libya and tried to reach Italy before the government was sworn in. I thought it happened earlier this week.

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But thanks to a strong election result, Meloni’s government acted quickly and was sworn in on Sunday, delivering his first speech to parliament on Tuesday, where his hard borders and anti-immigration campaign promises suddenly became a reality. He said Italy would close its borders to illegal immigrants. “Like any other serious state, you don’t enter illegally, you enter legally,” he said.

But for the 1,300 people aboard the increasingly dangerous ship, there was no legal way to Europe. When they left Libya, they fell into the hands of human traffickers.

About 78,000 people arrived in Italy by sea by 2022, a 51 percent increase from a year ago. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 27,000 have arrived in Spain and 12,000 in Greece. So far this year, more than 1,500 people have died trying to make it.

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