Malta agrees with Italy’s new policy on rescue missions by NGOs

VALLETTA (ITALPRESS/MNA) – The Maltese government agrees with the latest decision taken by the Italian government to curb the crossings of migrants from North Africa to Italy. The new policy is enforced through the publication of a decree by the Italian government to enforce measures including the issue of penalties up to 50,000 euros to international non-governmental organisations that operate rescue missions to save migrants. The decree allows the Italian authorties to confiscate the ships operated by the NGOs and requires rescue ships to call a port and sail to it immediately after a rescue, rather than staying at sea looking for other migrant boats in distress.
Maltese Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri who was answering questions from the local media during a press conference said that the rescue ships operated by the NGOs in the Mediterranean serve as a “pull factor” for migrants willing to cross the Mediterranean sea from North Africa towards Europe. Camilleri added that he could undertsand the decision taken by the Italian government, adding “many say that NGOs are a pull factor. What Italy is doing is aimed at preventing NGOs from being a pull factor”.
Citing the excellent bilateral relations, the Home Affairs Minister added that Malta will continue cooperating with the Italian government to fight illegal migration. Camilleri also said that such cooperation will continue with the Libyan coastguard. “It is not right that a person has to go through human traffickers to travel to Europe,” declared the Home Affairs Minister adding that Malta is successfully fighting human trafficking and preventing deaths at sea.
Last summer, Minister Camilleri insisted that the Armed Forces of Maltàs conduct in search-and-rescue operations was being unfairly tarnished by “those who work with traffickers” in a clear reference to NGOs. “I understand that there are the agendas of others, including those who work with traffickers or those who intend to traffic people into Europe. We can never be accomplices to this trafficking.”
However, 20 humanitarian NGOs are accusing the Italian government of breaching the human rights, and the decree goes against the international maritime law and could cause more deaths of migrants at sea.

Source: medNews