The immigrant rescue NGOs hold Meloni’s pulse: “The law of the sea speaks clearly”

He hasn’t been in office for even a month. Prime Minister of Italy and the far-right Giorgia Meloni already has pulsed important at NGO of bailing out of immigrants in waters of Mediterranean. That the firm hand in immigration policy is going to be one of its hallmarks is no surprise to anyone, but it has caused stupor the forcefulness with which it has left nearly a thousand immigrants in harsh conditions for weeks trapped on ships for its refusal to give them shelter in an Italian port. Then, he allowed them a “selective landing”. Until, days later, culminating in the total disembarkation. Except for one ship, which was diverted to France creating the first crisis between Paris and Rome of the Meloni era.

“There are no precedents,” says the director of the Open Arms NGO, Oscar Camps, in what he describes as a new twist in the perversion of international maritime lawto add: “It’s not legal to make a selective landing and, what’s more, it’s so serious that I don’t think they’ll do it again.”

Versus Meloni these will remain unbreakable humanitarian organizations that, they assure, they have the force that the law gives them. “Rescue is not an option, it is a obligation“, argues the founder of the Catalan NGO. “Here they will find us, in the sea,” says the head of Search and Rescue in the Central Mediterranean, Juan Matías Gil, of the NGO Doctors Without Borders, knowing that, however, They are not going to make things easy for them.Everyone is aware that more blockades, more administrative sanctions and more legal cases will come to hinder their work as much as possible.

Salvini’s trial

“The law of the sea speaks clearly; anyone rescued must be disembarked at the nearest safe port and we will continue to act in accordance with international law, as we have always done,” says Rachele Giorgi, responsible in Italy for the German NGO Sea-Watch. Indeed, a string of laws and conventions abound that the person who is in danger at sea has the right to be rescued and taken to a safe port.

Director of Open Arms He assures that there is concern among the workers of the Italian maritime captaincies, knowing that executing orders that are illegal can lead to legal problems.

In fact, whoever was Italian Minister of the Interior Between June 2018 and September 2019, the also far-right Matteo Salvini, has an open trial for the same practice that Meloni has carried out. The leader of the League prevented for 19 days that a hundred migrants rescued by Open Arms from landing in Italy in 2019 and faces 15 years in prison in a trial that has already begun but suffers constant delays -argues Camps- due to the maneuvers of his defense. The one who was Salvini’s right hand, matthew piantedosiis now Meloni’s Minister of the Interior.

Also the NGOs that operate in the Mediterranean They have pending legal cases. Of about twenty, only two remain open, according to figures considered by the organizations themselves.

despair on board

And meanwhile, the situation experienced on board the ships without permission to disembark has touched the despair. Its occupants are immigrants who have already come from an ordeal lived in Libya waiting to set foot in Europe. With lack of drinking water and food, without hygienic conditions and with the low morale, scenes of great tension have been experienced. Especially, in the rescue ship of Doctors without borderswhere two people jumped into the water after being stranded for more than two weeks and with the sword of Damocles to be able to be returned.

Yossouf – fictitious name– He said that he could not bear the situation any longer when he saw that, as a result of the selective landing, some people got off the boat and others did not. And she jumped into the water of the port of Catania from the ‘Geo Barents’. He is Syrian and fled the war to find a place where he can feel free and safe. He went through Libyan hell, synonymous with torture, violence and extortion. It is his account to a member of Doctors without borders. Her youngest daughter is six years old and she cannot go to school at the risk of being hit by a bomb.

And like Yossouf, dozens, hundreds.

The immigrant rescue NGOs hold Meloni’s pulse: “The law of the sea speaks clearly”