April 18. 2024. 12:41

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Italy urges EU to take responsibility after another migrant shipwreck

The European Union must take ‘concrete responsibility’ in dealing with migration, President Sergio Mattarella said in an official statement after at least 59 migrants, including children, died in a shipwreck off southern Italy.

The boat travelling from Turkey to the Italian coast was torn apart by the rough seas, and only 80 people could be rescued. Italian security forces attempted to assist further but were unsuccessful due to weather conditions.

The EU must “finally take concrete responsibility in governing the migration phenomenon to take it away from human traffickers,” Italian President Sergio Mattarella said in an official statement after the tragedy.

The government “is committed to preventing departures and with them, the consummation of these tragedies”, said Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni (Fdi/Ecr). “(We) will continue to do so, first and foremost, by demanding maximum cooperation from the states of departure and origin,” she added.

On Thursday, the Senate finally approved the so-called “NGO Decree”– or “Code of Conduct for NGO vessels” – which introduced new rules for rescuing migrants.

The decree has been criticised by the Council of Europe, the United Nations and several NGOs because it would hinder the rescue of migrants.

Instead, the Italian government argues that the code of conduct aims to stop human trafficking perpetrated by scapegoats, who take advantage of the constant presence of NGO ships at sea, using them as “ferries”.

Since 1 January, about 12,000 migrants have landed on Italian shores, according to Interior Ministry data. The number has tripled since last year. The migrants come mainly from the Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Guinea, and Tunisia.

“Gone is the Italy that turns on those who respect the rules and pretends not to see those who systematically violate them”, Meloni had commented, referring to illegal immigration and human trafficking.

According to Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, in this case, “NGOs have nothing to do with it”, but this shipwreck must lead to joint agreements at the EU level with the countries of departure. “I hope they (the EU) understand that this is not an Italian whim”, he added.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented on Twitter: “All together, we must redouble our efforts on the Migration and Asylum Pact and the Central Mediterranean Action Plan”.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)