Italy Ports Turn Away Italian Supply Ship Carrying Migrants

تم نشره في Tue 10 July / Jul 2018. 12:00 AM
  • Italy has blocked foreign migrant rescue vessels - but now has blocked an Italian vessel - (AFP)

AMMAN — A commercial ship flying the Italian flag, and carrying dozens of rescued migrants, was refused permission to dock at Italian ports.

The Vos Thalassa, a supply ship which serves oil rigs in the Mediterranean, rescued 66 people adrift off the Libyan coast, Italian media report.

After being turned away from Italian ports, it handed the migrants over to the Italian coastguard.

Italy's government has blocked charity rescue ships from its ports for weeks.

Senior officials have accused the humanitarian groups of operating a "taxi service" for migrants, which they say endangers lives by encouraging human smuggling.

The Vos Thalassa, however, is an Italian vessel, rather than a foreign-flagged charity ship, and was not specifically on a search-and-rescue mission.

It is the first time a private Italian ship has been blocked from the ports of its home country because of the migrant policy.

International maritime law requires any ship that encounters an emergency to make its way to the area quickly and offer assistance.

Italian officials, however, said that the Vos Thalassa did not need to intervene, as the Libyan coastguard was on its way.

Italian media quoted officials saying that the Libyan coastguard was closer, but the Vos Thalassa chose to travel to the ship.

Italy's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, tweeted that he was proud of the coastguard for taking on the migrants "who were endangering the life of the Italian cruiser Vos Thalassa".

He said there would now be an investigation to "punish troublemakers".

The Vos Thalassa was also involved in a similar incident involving 212 migrants in June.