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  2. English
  3. Politics
  4. Decision to let migrants off NGO ships 'bizarre' - Meloni

Decision to let migrants off NGO ships 'bizarre' - Meloni

NGO vessels aren't carrying shipwreck survivors says premier

(ANSA) - ROME, NOV 9 - Premier Giorgia Meloni on Wednesday criticized the decision by medical officials to allow around 250 people who were on board two NGO-run search-and-rescue ships to disembark in Catania on Tuesday on health grounds.
    The ships, the Humanity 1 and the Geo Barents, docked in the Sicilian city at the weekend but the government initially only allowed people considered vulnerable to land and had told the ships to return to international waters with the others still on board.
    "I read some surreal headlines that were a long way from the truth in the newspapers this morning," Meloni told a meeting of lawmakers for her right-wing Brothers of Italy (FdI) party.
    "For example, the health authority's decision to allow the migrants on board the NGO ships to disembark, on the grounds that they were fragile due to possible psychological problems, did not depend on the government.
    "We found the health authority's decision bizarre".
    The premier defended her government's tough stance on NGO-run ships, which also saw it ignore appeals from the Ocean Viking, a ship run by French association SOS Méditerranée and carrying 234 asylum seekers, to be assigned a port of safety.
    The Ocean Viking is now heading towards France and this case has caused tension between Paris and Rome.
    "The Italian government is respecting all the international conventions," she said.
    "The ban imposed on these NGO ships on being in Italian waters, except for within the terms necessary for rescue operations and to assist fragile individuals, is justified and legitimate.
    "It is not shipwreck survivors who are on these ships but migrants.
    "The people climbed aboard in international waters from other vessels and the ships that took them on have the equipment and crew to host them and provide for all their needs". (ANSA).


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