Posted on April 10, 2020

Italy Closes Ports to Rescue Ships, Targeting Migrants

Hada Messia, et al, CNN, April 8, 2020

Non-national migrant rescue ships will no longer be able to dock in Italy, after the country declared its ports were not safe due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Given the spread of Covid-19, Italian ports cannot guarantee the necessary prerequisites to be qualified as ‘places of safety,” the government decree says.

While it does not mention migrants specifically, the order refers to search and rescue operations, which pluck thousands of migrants from the Mediterranean each year.

It will remain in place for the duration of the health emergency triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the decree added.

The measure was condemned by several non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Sea Watch, MSF and Open Arms, in a joint statement.


In 2018, the far-right former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini closed Italy’s ports to migrant rescue vessels. And in 2019, Italy adopted a decree that could see ships docking without authorization facing fines of up to $57,000.