Italy Should Reconsider Plan To Fine NGO Boats Rescuing Migrants - UN Refugee Agency

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Italy Should Reconsider Plan to Fine NGO Boats Rescuing Migrants - UN Refugee Agency

Italy should reconsider its decision to fine non-government organizations that rescue migrants at sea and instead enhance protections for refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a press release on Wednesday

UNITED NATIONS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 12th June, 2019) Italy should reconsider its decision to fine non-government organizations that rescue migrants at sea and instead enhance protections for refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a press release on Wednesday.

"UNHCR is calling on the Italian Government to reconsider the decree and for Parliament to amend it with a focus on refugee protection and saving lives at its core," the release said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Italy passed a security and migration decree which aims to curb the activity of migrant rescue ships operated by humanitarian groups.

The UN refugee agency pointed out that the country has the obligation under international law to facilitate humanitarian action that prevents loss of lives. UNHCR also noted that the deteriorating security situation in North Africa prevents the safe return of refugees.

The decree, approved on Tuesday evening, states that any boats that ignore Italian authorities' orders and enter Italian waters in violation of international law can be fined from 10,000 Euros ($11,300) to 50,000 euros. If the violations are repeated, the boats may be seized.

The directive has already drawn criticism from UN human rights experts who in May called on the government of Italy to halt its approval.

Europe has been struggling with its worst migration crisis in recent history for some four years. Italy alongside Spain and Greece have been among the most affected countries as they serve as the main entry points for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea.

Italy's government has banned vessels carrying rescued migrants from entering its territorial waters, with the nation's ports having remained closed to such boats since last summer.

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