Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Italy Closes its Ports

Alan Kurdi

The Italian government has officially closed its ports to NGO ships bringing in migrants citing the need to devote its emergency resources to the Covid-19 virus, not receiving and caring for migrants trying to enter from across the Mediterranean. At this time, as German NGO ship, the Alan Kurdi, with 150 migrants board is requesting permission to dock in Italy. This request has been refused.

The below article from Il Giornale is translated by Fousesquawk.

The government has closed the ports: "Italy is not a safe place"

From today as long as the health crisis lasts, Italy cannot be considered a safe port: This is decreed by the ministries of infrastructure, foreign, health, and interior. NGO ships are stopped from entering.
-Mauro Indelicato, Wednesday, April 8, 11:41

Italy is today officially not a secure port and won't be at least until next July 31, the day of expiration of the state of health emergency, decreed last January 2020 by the council of ministers.

Decreeing this decision was the Ministry of the Infrastructure, in concert with those of the Foreign, Health and Interior: "For the entire period of the duration of the national health emergency coming from the spread of the Covid-19 virus," the document reads (read here) drafted by representatives of the above-mentioned departments, "Italian ports do not assure the necessary prerequisites for the classification and definition of  'Place of Safety' (safe place), in virtue of what is specified in the Hamburg Convention, in the search for and maritime rescue, for cases of rescue carried out by naval units flying foreign flags outside the Italian search and rescue area."

Simply stated, Italian ports cannot be considered secure being situated in a territory where one of the gravest health emergencies in the last years is being fought. Therefore, the government has finally decided to put in black and white that which has been evident for weeks, namely, that our country is not able at this moment to offer reception.

And this, as far as is specified by international rules, is not by accident, noted in reference to the above mentioned document and the conventions and treaties that regulate behavior in the sea and that of navigation.

Perhaps, it is not by coincidence that the document came out precisely at this time: In fact, for at least two days, an NGO ship, namely, the Alan Kurdi of the German Sea Eye has been knocking at the doors of  all ports in our territorial waters

On board the ship are 150 migrants, picked up in two separate operations in the central Mediterranean, and our authorities suspect that over the course of a few days, the German NGO could officially ask for entry into Italy. This will not be possible: Our ports cannot be considered, as previously stated, secure and cannot take care of anybody.

Furthermore, with the coming warm season, an increase in the flow of migrants would be very dangerous for Italy: Re-starting the gigantic mechanism of reception, even for a few disembarkations, at a time in which only the emergency mechanism should be activated would be abundantly deleterious.

It would mean that men and rescue resources for the Covid emergency  would be distracted and taken away in order to manage the disembarkations. Not just that: The authorities, at great effort, would have to start the search for facilities capable of sheltering the migrants in quarantine, not a simple circumstance as discovered in  the disembarkations at Messina, last February 27 and that of Lampedusa in mid-March.

The port closures would, for the moment, protect our country at least until July 31 in respect to the migrant emergency, in expectation, hopefully earlier, of this health (crisis) passing. An initial application of this decree took place in respect to the above-mentioned case pertaining to the Alan Kurdi: Currently, due to the pandemic Covid-19 emergency, in fact, the ports no longer present the necessary sanitary prerequisites called for by the Hamburg Convention," explained the ministers of Transport and Infrastructure in the past hours in a letter of response to the Sea Eye request. "It is what was established in the interministerial decree also signed yesterday by Minister Paola DeMicheli, who had also made similar decisions for cruise ships and passenger ships flying a foreign flag."

"It is a decree inspired by the principles of protection of the health of passengers and equal treatment of Italian citizens," continues the communication of the ministry, to which the current ordinances have also prevented the movement from one municipality to another and dictated stringent rules for the re-entry from foreign countries."

"To the German government, as a flag state-further reads the ministry communication, "it is requested to assume the responsibility of every activity at sea, including the port of disembarkation, of the Alan Kurdi, which at this moment, moreover, has not yet entered into Italian territorial waters. In the certainty that Germany will maintain its commitments, the Italian Executive (branch)  is prepared to collaborate, and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation, in concert with the Ministry of Health,  to intervene if necessary also using its own means, according to the principles of solidarity and fraternity, with which the nation has always confronted these emergencies."

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