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African migrants in Rome. Photo supplied

Hundreds of migrants continue to land in Italy despite port ban

Hundreds of migrants have landed in Italy over the last months, away from the media glare of the clash between Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and NGO run migrant rescue ships.

Published: July 10, 2019, 7:54 am

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    Some 76 more migrants landed in two waves in Sicily and Sardinia on Tuesday, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

    In the first landing, at Pozzallo in Sicily, some 53 North African migrants picked up by the coast guard in the Sicilian Channel landed at the port near Ragusa.

    The group included 10 women. Six of them were immediately transferred to Lampedusa for medical reasons.

    In the second landing, at Porto Pino in southwest Sardinia, some 13 Algerian migrants were intercepted and taken to Monastir near Cagliari.

    A League amendment to the government’s second security and migrants decree meanwhile envisages fines ranging from 150 000 euros to one million euros for NGO ships that fail to keep to the Interior Minister’s closed-ports policy, sources said on Tuesday. Existing fines are far lower, from between 10-50 000 euros.

    NGO ships that defy a ban on entering Italian waters will always be sequestered and impounded, another amendment said. And another said that the captains of such NGO vessels will always be arrested.

    “Saving lives” is worth more than a potential fine of one million euros, NGO Mediterranea Saving Humans said Tuesday, saying “we won’t stop” despite the League amendment.

    NGOs Mediterranea, Open Arms, Sea watch and Sea Eye are currently defying Salvini’s policy by rescuing migrants off Libya – although Mediterranea’s yacht has been impounded.

    There has notably been a steady stream of “ghost” migrant landings where migrants come directly from North Africa without any NGO assistance.

    These are happening largely under the radar of Salvini’s high-profile clash with the NGOs, which has helped him surge in the polls to almost 40 percent.

    According to the latest figures, just 8 percent of the 3 000 or so migrants who landed in Italy this year were rescued by NGO ships.

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    • Jerry S

      Just send them back.

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