France, Germany Press Italy To Open Ports To 1,000 At Sea

France and Germany are asking Italy’s new far-right-led government to grant a safe port to nearly 1,000 people rescued by humanitarian groups in the central Mediterranean, some of whom have been stuck at sea for more than two weeks.

Humanitarian groups caring for the rescued migrants on four ships in the central Mediterranean are sounding an alarm about deteriorating conditions, including people sleeping on floors in the cold and spreading fevers.

A German charity, Mission Lifeline, reported that its ship is in “extreme danger” with 95 rescued people on board, half of them women and children, and bad weather forecast.

Italy’s new interior minister, Matteo Piantedosi, has drafted new measures alleging that the non-governmental groups violated procedure by not properly coordinating their rescues, setting the groundwork for Italy to close the ports. Piantedosi has also asked the countries whose flags they fly to intervene.

Meanwhile, Italian authorities continue to allow the arrivals of people rescued at sea by Italian patrols, including 456 arriving in Calabria on Thursday.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Friday that international law makes clear that Italy, as the closest port, “must let the ship in.” He referred to the Norway-flagged Ocean Viking with 234 people aboard operated by the group SOS Mediterranee, which has one of its headquarters in France.

The German Foreign Ministry said it has asked Italy to intervene quickly to help those aboard the German-flagged Humanitarian 1, with 179 people aboard.

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