NGOs worry over pro­posed rules

The Barrie Examiner - - WORLD - NI­COLE WIN­FIELD THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

ROME — Hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tions that res­cue mi­grants in the Mediter­ranean are voic­ing con­cern over pro­posed rules to gov­ern their op­er­a­tions that Italy has drafted amid ac­cu­sa­tions that some agen­cies are com­plicit with the Libyan­based traf­fick­ers.

Res­cue boats could be re­fused port in Italy if they don’t sign onto the pro­posed code of con­duct, which the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment is to present to the non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions in the com­ing days.

Michele Trainiti, search and res­cue co-or­di­na­tor of Doc­tors With­out Borders, said on Fri­day that the draft rules seem to vi­o­late the aid groups’ in­de­pen­dence and neu­tral­ity and could ham­per their abil­ity to res­cue mi­grants.

“The fact that some ships may be barred from dis­em­bark­ing in Ital­ian ports wor­ries us very much, be­cause there are no clear al­ter­na­tive ports,” Trainiti said. As an ex­am­ple he pointed to one re­cent res­cue in­volv­ing a new­born who was still at­tached to his mother via the um­bil­i­cal cord.

“Imag­ine if this baby had to travel some three or four days more to reach an­other coun­try.”

Un­der the pro­posed rules, boats would be barred from en­ter­ing Libyan wa­ters to res­cue mi­grants, ex­cept in cases of im­mi­nent emer­gency. NGOs would have to let po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing traf­fick­ers board their res­cue ves­sels, and de­clare the sources of their fi­nanc­ing. They would be barred from com­mu­ni­cat­ing by phone with smug­glers or us­ing light sig­nals to in­di­cate their lo­ca­tions.

Car­lotta Sami, spokes­woman for the UN refugee agency, said there were al­ready ex­ist­ing guide­lines gov­ern­ing sea res­cues that she hoped could help in­form the dis­cus­sions be­tween Italy and the NGOs in draft­ing a fi­nal set of rules.

“We hope that any code serves to im­prove co-or­di­na­tion, and in no way re­duces the ca­pac­ity of res­cues, be­cause the ca­pac­ity must be in­creased,” she said.

Euro­pean Union coun­tries have backed Italy in draw­ing up the code of con­duct as part of ef­forts to stem the flow of mi­grants leav­ing Libya bound for Europe. Italy is strug­gling un­der the in­flux of some 85,000 peo­ple in the first six months of the year, a 20 per cent in­crease over last year.

GETTY IMAGES FILES

Above: Peo­ple gather at a beach in the Red Sea re­sort of Hurghada in 2010. Two Ukraini­ans were killed Fri­day and four oth­ers were wounded when an as­sailant stabbed them at the re­sort.

CE­SARE ABBATE/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Mi­grants wait to dis­em­bark from a Doc­tors With­out Borders ship af­ter be­ing res­cued at sea, at the har­bour in Salerno, Italy, on Fri­day.

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