March 4. 2024. 7:31

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Minister: Frontex didn’t warn Italy before Calabria disaster


EU border agency Frontex did not provide Italian authorities with any warnings or distress alerts regarding the migrants whose boat shipwrecked off the coast of Calabria that, left many dead at the end of February, said Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, clarifying his government’s position in an urgent briefing to parliament.

On Tuesday, Piantedosi addressed the lower chamber and then the Senate regarding accusations levelled at the government for handling the migrant shipwreck near the Calabrian town of Crotone, which left 72 dead and an undefined number of people missing.

Speaking to lawmakers, Piantedosi denied that his government prevented the carrying out of rescue operations, reiterating that Frontex failed to send distress alerts. The first distress call reportedly arrived at 4 am and the first aid arrived shortly after that, contradicting a Coast Guard press release which said the first report came at 4:30 am.

“The Frontex report about the boat did not represent a dangerous situation. Secondly, there had been no distress calls of any kind”, the minister said.

Minister: Frontex didn’t warn Italy before Calabria disaster

EU border agency Frontex did not provide Italian authorities with any warnings or distress alerts regarding the migrants whose boat shipwrecked off the coast of Calabria that, left many dead at the end of February, said Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, …

EURACTIV was informed by a source within Frontex that they had intercepted the ship on the night of 25 February and then communicated with Italian authorities. They added that information such as poor sea conditions, thermal imaging, which showed the possibility of a presence of a large number of people in the bow, and other data was communicated to Italy.

After Frontex’s communication, the Italian authorities sent two patrol boats of the Guardia di Finanza (GDF) to intercept the ship, which had to return to port because of the rough weather and sea conditions, as they explained in a press release published on Monday.

Piantedosi also recalled that Italian authorities had rescued more than 36,000 people since October and that Meloni’s government continues to be committed have the issue of irregular migration, again discussed at the EU and national level.

“On the assumption that the main, immediate and direct cause is the criminal networks dedicated to aiding and abetting irregular migration and the deep cause lies in the persistent and growing imbalances between the global North and South, this government has finally brought the migration issue back to the centre of the political agenda”, he stressed.

“I have appealed for people’s lives to no longer end up in the hands of vile criminals, and in no way want to blame the victims. I deeply regret that the meaning of my words was interpreted differently”, the minister added.

The governing majority defended Piantedosi’s speech and called on the opposition which accuses the government of causing deaths at sea to wait for the ongoing investigations into the tragedy, and not speculate.

On the side of the opposition, Peppe Provenzano (Pd/S&D) is calling for the government to be charged with the crime of massacre, citing the words of now Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who in 2015 had accused former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (Italia Viva/Renew) of the same crime with regard to a shipwreck in the Sicilian Channel.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)