The leftist governing coalition has closed all ports in Italy to migrant transport NGOs, stating that the country is no longer a safe haven due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.
The government has stated that Italy will be closed to all migrants and asylum seekers due to the Chinese virus outbreak and that its ports will not accept any migrant transport NGO vessels until at least July 31st.
Several Italian ministries endorsed the move including the Health Ministry and Interior Ministry which put out a statement alongside other departments.
“For the entire period of the duration of the national health emergency resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 virus Italian ports do not ensure the necessary requirements for the classification and definition of ‘Place of Safety’, pursuant to the provisions of the Hamburg Convention, on research and maritime rescue, for rescue cases carried out by naval units flying a foreign flag outside the Italian SAR [search and rescue] area,” the statement said according to Il Giornale.
The coronavirus outbreak has led to most migrant transport NGOs keeping their vessels in port, except for the German-based NGO Sea-Eye which recently picked up 150 migrants from the North African coast and has been waiting to dock in Italy for several days.
Coronavirus Halts Migrant Transport NGO Activity in Italy https://t.co/LolF53hTrs
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 13, 2020
The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure has rejected Sea-Eye’s requests to dock and has instead called on the German government to take responsibility for the vessel and the migrants aboard it.
State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior Carlo Sibilia has suggested that migrants remain aboard the transport vessels under quarantine.
Without mentioning the Sea-Eye vessel specifically, he admitted that such measures would only be possible if Italy were a safe haven, stating: “With an emergency of this magnitude still going on, I don’t think we can guarantee it anymore.”
Before the coronavirus outbreak, the number of migrants arriving in Italy by migrant transport NGO vessels had jumped 948 per cent compared to the previous year when populist Senator Matteo Salvini served as Interior Minister and closed the country’s ports to the NGOs.