Nearly 1,000 migrants stranded in Med as NGOs urge Italy and Malta to help

Nearly 1,000 migrants stranded in Med as NGOs urge Italy and Malta to help

Nearly 1,000 migrants stranded in Med as NGOs urge Italy and Malta to help

ROME (Reuters) – Three charity ships carrying nearly 1,000 rescued migrants on Wednesday urged Italian or Maltese authorities to take them to one of their ports, saying those on board needed urgent help.

Ships operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), SOS Mediterranee and SOS Humanity have been at sea for over a week. They said all their requests to the dock to date have been unsuccessful.

“572 men, women and children still waiting for safe port,” MSF tweeted, referring to the Geo Barents ship.

In comments sent to Reuters, SOS Humanity said there were 179 people on board its Humanity 1 vessel, off the eastern coast of Sicily. The German charity said it had sent inquiries about the pier to state authorities over the past 11 days.

The ship, managed by SOS Mediterranee, is currently carrying 234 people.

In an interview with the Corriere della Sera daily, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi did not answer a question about whether migrant boats would be allowed to dock, but said Rome could not take responsibility for migrants rescued at sea by “foreign boats”.

Maltese authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s new right-wing government is threatening to ban charity boats from its waters as Rome looks to get tough again on boat migrants.

In comments to be included in the book, approved by his staff, Maloney accused marine rescue charities of violating international law by acting as “shuttles” between Africa and Europe.

He argued that Germany and Norway, the flag countries of the charity ships in question, should be looking after migrants stranded at sea, not Italy or Malta.

“If an NGO ship flies, say, the German flag, there are two possibilities: either Germany recognizes it and takes care of it, or that ship becomes a pirate ship,” Meloni told Bruno Vespa, the author of the book.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante and Alvis Armellini; Editing by William McLane)

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