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Italy impounds German charity rescue ship

By AFP
March 27, 2023

ROME: Italian authorities have detained a migrant rescue vessel run by German charity Louise Michel, the NGO and the Italian coastguard service said on Sunday.

The vessel -- which was conducting life-saving operations to pick up people in distress in the Mediterranean Sea -- was impounded in Lampedusa on Saturday, just two days after Italy seized a migrant rescue vessel run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

The far-right government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has vowed to curb the number of would-be asylum seekers landing in Italy. It has passed a controversial law that forces charity ships to only perform one rescue mission at a time before returning to a port designated by the authorities, something critics say increases the risk of people drowning.

“We know of dozens of boats in distress right in front of the island (Lampedusa) at this very moment, yet we are being prevented from assisting. This is unacceptable!” the German charity said on Twitter on Sunday.