Italy allowed a humanitarian rescue ship carrying 179 migrants to enter a Sicilian port and begin disembarking minors early Sunday, while refusing to respond to requests for safe harbor from three other ships carrying 900 more people in nearby waters.
Italy's new far-right-led government has closed its ports to rescue ships run by nongovernmental groups and insists that the countries whose flag the ships fly must take in the migrants. It granted the Humanity 1 alone access to port to land minors and people needing medical attention.
Officials at the German-run charity that operates the Humanity 1 challenged Italy’s move to distinguish “vulnerable” migrants, saying all were rescued at sea and that alone qualifies them for a safe port under international law.
Italy’s only Black lawmaker in the lower chamber, Aboubakar Soumahoro, met the Humanity 1 at the port in Catania and decried the government's closure of ports to NGO ships as a “shame.”
“Right now, in the port of Catania there is a selective disembarkation under way,” Soumahoro said on Twitter. “Worn bodies of castaways already exhausted by cold, fatigue, trauma and torture are considered objects by the government of Giorgia Meloni.”
Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said Friday that the Humanity 1 would be allowed in Italian waters only long enough to disembark minors and people in need of urgent medical care.
“This is not a wish. This is everyone’s right,’’ he said Friday night.
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