Italy rejects MSF ship's request for closer safe port

Italy rejects MSF ship's request for closer safe port
1 min read
NGO operations in the Mediterranean are becoming increasingly precarious.
The Geo Barents has been left at sea in deteriorating weather conditions [Getty images]

The Italian government has rejected a request from Doctors Without Borders to assign a safe port to their ship the Geo Barents closer to the place where it rescued 73 migrants, an NGO official said on Sunday.

Italy's interior ministry did not comment on the issue.

The dispute is part of a broader tug-of-war between Italy's right-wing government and NGOs over where to disembark migrants saved in the Mediterranean sea.

On Saturday Doctor Without Borders' ship Geo Barents received permission from Rome to dock to Ancona port, which is in central Italy and on the country's east coast, far away from Sicily where NGO boats normally disembarked rescued migrants.

"The interior ministry rejected our request for a closer safe port for the disembarkation of the 73 survivors on board the Geo Barents. The ship is heading north," Doctors Without Borders' Mission Head Juan Matias Gil said in a message on Sunday.

After rescuing migrants on a rubber dinghy offshore Libya, Geo Barents on Saturday asked for a closer port, adding it would take it more than three days to reach Ancona while weather conditions were deteriorating. 

Reporting by Reuters