The Norwegian government says it is not responsible for refugees and migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea in boats flying the country’s national flag, after Italy called on Norway and Germany to responsible for nearly 1,000 people stranded offshore and waiting to be allowed to dock.
Italy’s new right-wing government has remained silent on repeated requests by rescue groups to provide safe harbors, effectively stopping at sea three charity ships – Ocean Viking and Geo Barents carry Norwegian flag, and Humanity 1 carries German flag – for more than a week.
Last week, Rome sent letters to the embassies of Norway and Germany, saying that NGO ships flying their flags were not following European security rules and were undermining what it described as war. against undocumented immigration.
In its response, Norway said “primary responsibility for coordinating work to ensure a safe harbor for people in distress at sea rests with the state responsible for the search and rescue area.” where those supports were made.”
Ambassador Johan Vibe said in an emailed statement to Reuters that “Norway has no liability under human rights conventions or the law of the sea for people being boarded on private Norwegian-flagged ships in the Mediterranean. “
Ocean Vikings and Geo Barents have more than 800 people on board and are sailing off the coast of Sicily, while Humanity 1 has 179 people, including more than 100 unaccompanied minors and a 7-month-old baby with them mom.
Petra Krischok, press officer on board Humanity 1, said people were sleeping on the deck and could soon face rough seas after days of fine weather. More than a quarter of the group had fallen ill with flu-like symptoms, she added.
Meanwhile, Italian authorities continued to allow those rescued by Italian patrols, including 456, to arrive in Calabria on Thursday.
Italy last month formed the first far-right government Since the end of World War II, Giorgia Meloni became the first woman to serve as prime minister.
Known for her flaming nationalism, Meloni said on her first visit to the European Union headquarters on Thursday that “the priority for us becomes the one that has been foreseen in the regulations.” of Europe, which is to protect external borders”.
Italy’s new Interior Minister, Matteo Pifterosi, told local media that the government had intended to give flag states an “immediate signal”.
“We cannot bear the burden of migrants at sea due to foreign ships operating systematically without any coordination with local authorities,” he said.
Piaredosi drafted new measures alleging that non-governmental groups had breached procedure by not coordinating their rescue operations well, a step that lays the groundwork for Italy. close the gates.
Charities have denied circumvention procedures and say their mission is to rescue those in distress at sea.
‘Let the train in’
According to the United Nations refugee agency, coastal states have an obligation to receive people from rescue ships “as soon as possible” and governments should work together to provide a safe place for those living. omission.
The German embassy on Wednesday urged Italy to quickly provide help, saying the NGO’s ships had made an important contribution to saving lives at sea.
Separately, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Friday said international law clearly states that Italy, as the nearest port, “must let ships in”.
Mr. Darmanin said France and Germany had told the Italian government that they were ready to take on some people so that Italy would not be “a burden alone”.
On Thursday, the SOS Mediterranee charity that runs Ocean Viking said it had asked Greece, Spain and France for help because Italy and Malta had not responded to their requests to dock.
“Keeping survivors on board hostage in political debates for longer would be the result of a crushing defeat by European members and affiliated states,” said Xavier Lauth, operations director of SOS Mediterranee, said in a statement.
Government data shows that more than 6,200 people have arrived in Italy since October 27, compared with 1,400 in the same period in 2021.