Italy Cracks Down on Mediterranean Rescue Ships

On Thursday, Italy’s far-right government implemented a series of restrictions limiting the operation of migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean sea. Human rights defenders have condemned Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s crackdown, warning that the new restrictions would add to a refugee death toll that’s already in the tens of thousands.

Meloni’s new decree will prevent ships from carrying out multiple unplanned rescues during a single mission. Charities that violate these new rules could be fined and have their ships impounded. “Imagine a car accident with many injured and ambulances forced to take them to hospitals in another region. At some point, there will be no more ambulances available.”Activists say it is clear the only priority of Meloni’s far-right government is to limit the number of migrants entering Italy. “I felt the treason of my country. It completely changed my view of the Italian judicial system.”

According to government data, since the start of 2021, over one hundred thousand asylum seekers have disembarked in Italy. Most of these refugees have arrived in Italy through the mediterranean sea. As the amount of migrants immigrating to Italy from North Africa has risen, so have Italian’s anti-immigrant sentiments toward them. This xenophobia is, of course, rooted in anger about economic stagnancy and inequality, but for the likes of Giorgia Meloni and Italy’s far-right, these immigrants make for perfect scapegoats for the Italian working class. 

Limiting the number of people stranded at sea who can be saved by charities is simply a cruel condemnation of people’s places of origin and arbitrary citizenship status. Meloni’s policy achieves nothing other than state-enforced malevolence and avoidable deaths.

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