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Italy set to phase out migrant sea rescues despite criticism


ROME – The Italian Government is to unveil plans to phase out its Mare Nostrum migrant sea rescue mission in spite of criticism from human rights organisations that the move would endanger many lives.

Officials said in a statement on Friday that a phasing out period had begun and that details would be unveiled at a press conference.

The authorities, who have clamoured for EU support in their rescue efforts, had said that Mare Nostrum was no longer justified because the bloc’s border agency Frontex planned to start a new maritime patrol mission called Triton on Saturday.

“The government has agreed to the handover from the Mare Nostrum operation to Triton,” officials said.

Several non-governmental organisations, including Amnesty International, Doctors without Borders and the Association for Legal Studies on Immigration, urged Italian authorities not to go ahead with their plans.

“Our organisations are seriously concerned about the humanitarian impact of this decision because Triton will not have a mandate to perform search-and-rescue missions in the Mediterranean.

“But to patrol maritime borders and will represent only a partial solution to the problem,’’ they said in an open letter. (dpa/NAN)

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