The third directive in a month reiterating that Italian waters can be crossed only by ''those with the right to do so'' has been issued by Italy. The announcement was made Monday by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Meanwhile, the Mare Ionio rescue ship from the Mediterranea Savings Humans organization has left Marsala towards the central Mediterranean in search of other migrants in distress at sea.
The head of the right-wing party Fratelli d'Italia, Giorgia Meloni, once again called for a naval blockade, ''especially now that there is a crisis in Libya." With the North African country suffering from clashes, there is concern this may increase departures from Libyan migrant detention centers towards Italy.
Salvini has meanwhile said firmly that ''peace comes before economic interests and national egoism. I am saying this to any ally or alleged ally. The directive reiterates that Italian waters and Italian skies are crossed only by those with a right to do so. The border between generosity and nonsense is thin. Foreigners will be accepted within the limit of possibility and this limit has already been crossed.''
Mare Ionio returns to sea
The Mare Ionio has left towards the sea off Libya, where conflict continues. The Mediterranea ship, after it completed a rescue mission ending on Lampedusa, was seized and later released by the Agrigento prosecutor's office. The prosecutor's office had also placed the captain and the mission chief under investigation. On Sunday it instead left from the Marsala port, heading south. ''We are leaving again,'' the NGO said, ''to preserve the rights, life, and dignity and people fleeing in the central Mediterranean.''
NGOs criticize EU
In a joint statement, the NGOs Sea-Watch, Open Arms, Mediterranea Saving Humans, Sea-Eye, Alarm Phone, and Seebrücke lashed out at EU states. They noted that ''that this is not an easy moment for our continued struggle, particularly as we are being systematically targeted by EU governments and institutions as political enemies, simply for defending people's right to live and survive and for working to restore accountability and the rule of law in the Central Mediterranean Sea. However, the civil SAR fleet finds itself with no other choice but to step in where European member states have fallen short and neglected their legal obligations. It is in this sea where the future of our societies is at stake, now more than ever.''