Italy envisages up to €1m fine for NGO ships

Photo: EPA A total of 53 migrants were rescued in the Sicilian Channel by an Italian Coast Guard patrol boat on 9 July.

A League amendment to the Italian government's second security and migrants decree envisages fines ranging from €150,000 to €1m for NGO ships that fail to respect Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's closed-ports policy, sources told ANSA on Tuesday. This compares to existing fines of €10-50,000.

NGOs Mediterranea, Open Arms, Sea watch and Sea Eye are currently defying Salvini's policy by rescuing migrants off Libya. Salvini's high-profile clash with the NGOs helped him surge in the polls to almost 40%. According to the latest figures, just 8% of the 3,000 or so migrants who landed in Italy this year were rescued by NGO ships.

Meanwhile on Monday Pope Francis issued an appeal for all to help migrants."Migrants are persons, it's not just a question of social or migratory issues," he said at a Mass for migrants and their rescuers marking the sixth anniversary of his historic visit to Lampedusa.


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