Maritime rescue in the Mediterranean: EU wants to better distribute rescue ships

For years, migrants have been brought to Italy under Operation Sophia. Now the EU is responding to pressure from Rome. Ships should also be driven to other ports.

Maritime rescue in the Mediterranean: EU wants to better distribute rescue ships

The EU's external Action Service has proposed changes to operational rules for anti-smuggling operation Sophia, which has been running since 2015, off Libyan coast. According to information from EU circles, it is recommended in paper presented that rescued migrants will no longer be brought ashore exclusively in Italy. In addition, in ideal case, all states involved in deployment are to receive rescued. This could be redistributed on basis of voluntary solidarity.

In fact, Operation Sophia has aim of combating smuggling in Mediterranean. However, valid rules of engagement also foresee that people will be saved at edge of operation. These have been brought exclusively to Italy since beginning of mission a good three years ago.

This is what government in Rome wants to see changed now. It has refore threatened to block Italian ports for EU-operation vessels. Italy's interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has repeatedly made it clear that his country has taken enough migrants from his point of view and that or EU countries are now on line.

This is also currently seen in example of Diciotti. The Italian Coast Guard ship is on land in Sicily, but most of people on board are not allowed to leave ship on refusal of Italian government. So far no or EU country has offered its help. Salvini accuses states like Germany and Spain that y have not complied with previous commitments. A few days ago both had promised to take up migrants from rescue ship Aquarius.

Italy's vice-head of government, Luigi Di Maio, is threatening to deny EU contribution payments in view of Diciotti: "If re is nothing tomorrow at meeting of European Commission on distribution of migrants from Diciotti, n I will not be prepared To pay 20 billion euros each year to EU, "he said in a video spread on Facebook.

View of naval deployment Sophia, according to EU circles, has set Italy a deadline of 31 August to agree on future procedure for distribution of GerettetenMenschen. So far this has not happened.

Italy's government is also declaring its tough course in refugee policy that, at beginning of deployment, about three years ago, it was not yet foreseeable that EU vessels would take on board tens of thousands of people. So far, re have been more than 49,000.

Ships would have to take much longer rides

It will probably not be until coming days that Foreign Service proposal has an opportunity for implementation. It is, for example, questionable wher it would be useful for ships with rescued migrants to travel much longer in future in order to bring people, for example, to countries such as France. It is also unclear what principle ports of entry should revolve on and wher re could be a connection with rescues of civilian ships that have also been discussed.

The German Navy is involved in deployment with supply ship Mosel. Since May 2015, only German naval soldiers have rescued more than 22,500 migrants in Mediterranean Sea from distress.

Updated Date: 24 August 2018, 12:00

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