Norway claims Italy is responsible for people stranded on NGO ships Migration news

Norway claims Italy is responsible for people stranded on NGO ships Migration news

Norway’s government says it is not responsible for refugees and migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by ships flying the country’s national flag, after Italy called on Norway and Germany to take responsibility for nearly 1,000 people stranded off its coast and awaiting port permission.

Italy’s new right-wing government has been silent on repeated appeals by rescue groups for safe harbor, effectively stranding three charity ships, the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking and Geo Barents and the German-flagged Humanity 1, at sea for more than week

Last week, Rome sent letters to the embassies of Norway and Germany, saying NGO ships flying its flags were not following European safety rules and undermining what it described as a fight against undocumented immigration.

In its response, Norway said that “primary responsibility for coordinating efforts to ensure safe harbor for those in distress at sea rests with the State responsible for the search and rescue area where such assistance has been provided.”

Ambassador Johan Wiebe said in an emailed statement to Reuters that “Norway has no responsibility under human rights conventions or the law of the sea for persons on board Norwegian-flagged private vessels in the Mediterranean.”

Ocean Viking and Geo Barents have more than 800 people on board and are sailing through Sicily, while Humanity 1 has 179 people on board, including more than 100 unaccompanied minors and a mother with a seven-month-old baby.

Humanity 1 press officer Petra Kryszczok said people were sleeping on deck and could soon face rough seas after good weather. More than a quarter of the group had flu-like symptoms, he added.

Meanwhile, Italian authorities continue to allow the arrival of people rescued by Italian patrols, including the 456 who arrived in Calabria on Thursday.

Italy last month formed its first far-right government After the end of World War II, Georgia Maloney became the first woman to hold the office of Prime Minister.

Known for his fiery nationalism, Maloney said during his first visit to the European Union headquarters on Thursday that “the priority for us becomes the priority that is already provided for in European regulations, which is the protection of the external borders.”

Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, told local media that the government intended to send an “immediate signal” to flag states.

“We cannot bear the burden of migrants being collected at sea by foreign ships operating in a coordinated manner without any coordination with local authorities,” he said.

Piantedosi drafted new measures, arguing that non-governmental groups had violated procedure by not properly coordinating their rescue efforts, setting the stage for Italy; close the ports.

The charities have denied bypassing procedures and say they have a duty to rescue people in distress at sea.

“Let the ship in”

According to the UN refugee agency, coastal countries have an obligation to accept people from rescue boats “as soon as possible” and governments must work together to provide safe haven for survivors.

The German embassy on Wednesday urged Italy to provide swift aid, saying that NGO ships had made an important contribution to saving lives at sea.

Separately, French Interior Minister GĂ©rald Darmanin said on Friday that international law made it clear that Italy, as the closest port, “must let the ship in”.

Darmanini said France and Germany have told the Italian government that both are willing to accept some people so that Italy “doesn’t have to bear the burden alone”.

On Thursday, SOS Mediterranee, the charity that operates the Ocean Viking, said it had asked Greece, Spain and France to help after Italy and Malta did not respond to its request for a port.

“Holding survivors on board a political debate for too long would be the result of a dramatic failure on the part of European members and associated states,” said Xavier Laut, director of operations for SOS Mediterranee.

More than 6,200 people have arrived in Italy since Oct. 27, government data show, compared with 1,400 in the same period in 2021.

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