More than 1,200 migrants have been brought ashore in southern Italy in a rescue operation in the Mediterranean. The Italian coast guard said it was an “exceptionally complex” rescue operation.
A large group of people are disembarked from crowded boats in rough weather. Everyone on board one of the three ships was rescued. The salvage operation is in its final stages for the remaining two boats. Italian media report.
Last night, the first ship carrying migrants arrived in the port of Crotone, in the Calabria region. Those on board faced problems due to bad weather and rough seas. The immigrants used boats that were barely seaworthy. The first batch of rescued migrants consisted of Afghan men and a few minors.
Restrictions on relief organizations
The rescue operation is under a magnifying glass because of the drama that happened at the end of February, when more than 70 people died after their boat capsized off the coast of Calabria. The Coast Guard could have been called in too late to save the group of immigrants. The Public Prosecution is investigating the matter.
Every year, tens of thousands of migrants venture across from North Africa to Europe. In Italy, the counter is tentatively at 15,800 this year. This is more than double compared to the previous two years in this period.
This week, Prime Minister Meloni announced tougher penalties for people smugglers. It also wants to take a tougher approach to dealing with illegal immigration in other ways. For example, it imposed restrictions on aid organizations, allowing them to deposit fewer migrants in Italy.
The expectation is that the new legislation will not change much, since aid organizations are only responsible for 10 to 15 percent of the total number of migrants arriving in Italy by sea.
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