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Italy is to seize two ships from the immigration assistance charity organization Mission Lifeline which is suspected of violating the law, which the non-governmental organization strongly denied.
Martellio Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and far-right League leader, said on Friday that the Lifeline rescue ship should be detained and “it’s crew stopped”.
Italian authorities stated that the Lifeline and Seefuchs, operated by the German immigration aid Mission Lifeline, illegally hoisted the Dutch flag.
The “Lifeline” carries 226 immigrants rescued on the Libyan coast, Mission Lifeline said.
In addition, the UN refugee agency reported that 220 immigrants drowned in the same area in recent days.
It called for “urgent operations” from EU countries.
The Italian government accused the German NGOs of receiving more than 220 immigrants on Thursday despite the intervention of the Libyan Coast Guard. It also stated that the two ships of the charity, Lifeline and Seesuchs, were not properly registered.
“We strictly abide by international rules and international law, so we cannot understand what the Italian government is doing,” Axel Steier, co-founder of Mission Lifeline, told Euronews.
The lifeline is “registered in the Netherlands,” Steir said. “We have registration documents and everything is normal. We don’t know why this happened.”
Danilo Toninelli, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of Italy, said that after the Netherlands denied that the ship sailed under the Dutch flag, it would conduct a flag state survey.