The Sea Watch 3 from the coast off the island of Lampedusa | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO
The Sea Watch 3 from the coast off the island of Lampedusa | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA/ELIO DESIDERIO

The UNHCR has asked the Italian Parliament to reconsider the government's second security decree which can ''have an impact on search and rescue operations at sea."

Andrea De Bonis, protection associate at the UNHCR, urged the Italian Parliament to reconsider the government's security decree during an audition with the Lower House's constitutional affairs and justice committees. 


''We hope that, after the second security decree, rescue operations at sea will not be hindered'', De Bonis said. Rescue operations are ''an imperative'' of international maritime law, he added. The official urged Parliament to reconsider ''articles 1 and 2 of the decree that concern obstacles to entering Italian territory and potential sanctions'', De Bonis said. 

'Estimated deaths on the rise' 

De Bonis expressed concern regarding the ''risk that the decree can have an impact on search and rescue operations at sea''. He cited a reported rise in the number of migrants dying in the Mediterranean. As of June 30, 341 have been reported dead or missing in the central Mediterranean in 2019, ''or one death for every eight arrivals'', De Bonis said. He added that ''the effort made by Italy over the past few years must be accompanied by the commitment of all European countries." 

Lega-M5S tension on amendment regarding NGO ships 

Meanwhile, tension was registered between ruling coalition partners M5S and the League on the decree which is being examined by the Lower House's justice and constitutional affairs committees. The League was reportedly irritated by an amendment signed by M5S lawmakers Yana Ehm and Simona Suriano that, according to parliamentary sources, would allow migrant rescue ships operated by NGOs to enter Italy. 

Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League party, is the architect of Italy's closed ports policy against NGO run migrant rescue vessels. ''The pro-NGO amendment of the 5-Star Movement to the second security decree is extremely grave," said Interior Undersecretary Nicola Molteni of the League. M5S members ''should say where they stand: with the law and legality or with human traffickers humiliating Italy and our security forces," he said. 

M5S members however have denied any proposal to favor NGOs. ''There is no amendment opening the possibility of letting unauthorized ships enter Italian waters. On the contrary, as already stated, we are in favor of the immediate seizure of the boat if it violates the laws of the Italian State, to give it to our armed forces and we have an amendment ready'', said sources with the M5S.
 

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