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HomeWorld NewsFrance accepts Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship Italy rejected

France accepts Ocean Viking migrant rescue ship Italy rejected

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PARIS — A weeks-long ordeal for asylum seekers who had been stranded at sea concluded on Friday, because the French authorities granted protected harbor for the Ocean Viking rescue ship within the southern metropolis of Toulon.

But it was not the tip of the battle between French officers and Italy’s new right-wing authorities, which had earlier refused to let the ship anchor. And there might be greater rifts to return as new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni follows by means of on marketing campaign pledges to undertake a tough line on unlawful immigration, reviving a problem the European Union has by no means totally resolved.

The greater than 230 individuals on the Ocean Viking, together with over 50 youngsters, have been rescued by the nonprofit SOS Mediterranee in mid- to late October whereas attempting to cross the Mediterranean in smaller vessels. France evacuated three sick passengers by helicopter on Thursday, earlier than French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin mentioned his authorities would make an “exceptional” determination to permit the remainder to disembark and have their asylum claims assessed in France.

Right-wing victory in Italy anticipated to deliver swift modifications to migration

But French officers mentioned it was “reprehensible” for Italy to have ignored repeated requests from the ship for port entry. They accused the Italian authorities of violating worldwide obligations to simply accept boats in misery on the nearest port. And they threatened “severe consequences” for France-Italy relations — beginning with the suspension of France’s participation in a redistribution plan below which it had agreed to take no less than 3,000 immigrants from Italy.

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On Friday, Meloni known as the French response “incomprehensible and unjustified.”

Italian governments have argued for years that their nation shoulders a disproportionate burden as a gateway for immigrants attempting to get to the European Union, and that different E.U. members haven’t sufficiently stepped up.

Meloni seems to be prepared to press the difficulty excess of her predecessor, centrist Mario Draghi.

One of her key marketing campaign guarantees requires a European-led “naval blockade” of the Mediterranean, in addition to the designation of locations outdoors the E.U. the place potential refugees and asylum seekers might be vetted with out making the damaging journey that has claimed hundreds of lives lately.

But limiting port entry is the primary manifestation of her place on unlawful immigration.

European nations reluctantly resolve what to do about rescued migrants — till subsequent time

In addition to denying the Ocean Viking, Italian authorities engaged in extended standoffs with three different rescue ships this month — Humanity 1, Rise Above and Geo Barents — first ignoring their misery calls, then permitting solely probably the most susceptible to disembark, earlier than in the end permitting individuals off.

Rescue teams have threatened authorized motion.

French President Emmanuel Macron, a centrist, just isn’t as excessive in his place on immigration as Meloni is, however he attracts a line between financial migrants and people who are really refugees. And he’s below strain from the far proper in his personal nation.

Far-right politician Éric Zemmour described the choice to simply accept the Ocean Viking as a “terrible signal to smugglers” that can encourage extra crossings through the Mediterranean Sea. Marine Le Pen’s far-right get together known as for a particular fee within the European Parliament to analyze doable hyperlinks between smugglers and NGOs that rescue immigrants in misery.

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Officials in Paris appeared conscious of the home far-right criticism this week, selecting the optics of a navy port because the ship’s vacation spot, publicizing that arrivals can be interviewed by the counterterrorism safety service and vowing to swiftly deport anybody who doesn’t meet asylum or residency standards. Two-thirds of the individuals on board will probably be transferred to different host nations.

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The E.U. has been unable to agree on a complete plan for addressing immigration, as a substitute placing collectively a fragile patchwork of guidelines and extra casual commitments to redistribute immigrants inside the 27-country bloc.

France’s earlier settlement to take no less than 3,000 individuals from Italy was a part of an effort “to provide Italy with guarantees” and to make progress on negotiations that had stalled due to resistance from Hungary and Poland, mentioned French immigration researcher Matthieu Tardis. “Now, everything is being called into question.”

The tensions additionally bode in poor health for broader Franco-Italian relations, which had blossomed below Draghi to such an extent that some hoped they might change into a brand new centerpiece of European politics. A meeting last month between Macron and newly elected Meloni advised that they could be capable to construct a strong working relationship, regardless of their political variations. Both nations have a excessive debt burden, which has made them pure allies on many financial points.

But this week shifted “the trajectory in an almost dramatic way,” mentioned Luigi Scazzieri, a senior analysis fellow on the Center for European Reform, including that an escalation of the present disagreements might throw relations again into “the darkest phase in Italian-French relations” in current reminiscence.

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In 2019, France recalled its ambassador to Italy after a spread of disagreements that included immigration, in addition to an Italian deputy minister assembly with “yellow vest” protesters. While relations between Rome and Paris calmed, some analysts count on a trickier dynamic with Meloni in energy, on condition that members of her get together have lengthy lamented what they see as disproportionate French and German management of Europe.

Rome might also change into extra vocal about what some are calling double requirements of the French authorities.

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After years of pursuing a method to discourage undocumented immigrants, together with by dismantling their camps in Calais or sending them again to Italy, France can’t declare the ethical excessive floor to the extent it want to, human rights teams say.

“Everyone is being hypocritical,” mentioned Paolo Modugno, an Italy-focused researcher on the Parisian Sciences Po college. “But then again, it’s a problem that’s really, really difficult to tackle.”

Harlan reported from Venice.

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