Italy Blocks 35 Migrants From Leaving Rescue Ship

    Photo: AFP/Getty Images [via DW]

    The Facts

    • Italy's new right-wing government has prevented 35 asylum seekers picked up in the Mediterranean from disembarking from a rescue ship. Rome says the people, most of whom entered Italian waters via Libya, aren't entitled to asylum.

    • This comes as, on Saturday, Italy granted the Humanity 1 ship — operated by the German non-governmental organization SOS Humanity — access to the port of Catania in Sicily, but only 144 children, women, and other "vulnerable" persons in need of medical assistance were allowed to disembark.

    The Spin

    Left narrative

    The attitude toward refugees in need highlights the new Italian government's racist and xenophobic nature. This is also underscored by Meloni's call for a "sea blockade" against people seeking protection and a better life. Added to this are scandalous earlier statements by the neo-fascists about the "ethnic substitution" of the Italian population by migrants. Rome's populist feeding of fears contradicts European values and must not be tolerated within the EU.

    Right narrative

    The Meloni government is finally standing up for Italy, and has proposed a long-term solution to the migration crisis that actually makes sense: establish European asylum application centers in North Africa to deter illegal crossings in the first place. But until this can be done, other EU countries must step up. As a main port of entry, Italy is one of the EU countries that receives the most migrants — including from safe African countries, as the result of people smuggling. This is no longer sustainable or fair.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    While all eyes are now on Italy, the West, with its neocolonial policies and imperial logic, is itself responsible for the ongoing migration and refugee crisis and the rise of populist and right-wing governments in Europe, such as that of Giorgia Meloni in Italy. It must not be ignored that, ultimately, it was NATO's "humanitarian intervention" that destroyed Libya and opened Pandora's box.

    Political split



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