Posted on August 25, 2023

Italy Impounds Three Rescue Ships as Migrant Numbers Soar

Crispian Balmer, Reuters, August 23, 2023

Italy impounded a rescue ship operated by a German NGO on Wednesday, the third charity boat sequestered this week under tough new migration rules introduced by the country’s right-wing government.

The temporary seizure of the three vessels, all held at port after completing rescue operations in the central Mediterranean, comes as migrant arrivals to Italy continued to soar despite efforts by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to halt the flow.

Germany’s Sea Eye 4 boat was detained after bringing 114 migrants to the southern port of Salerno, and told it could not put to sea for 20 days. It was also fined almost 3,000 euros ($3,240), the Sea Eye group said in a statement.

It was the second time the boat has been impounded this year.

A second charity ship, Aurora, operated by Germany’s Sea Watch, was seized on Monday after bringing 76 migrants to the island of Lampedusa, while the Spanish rescue vessel Open Arms was impounded on Tuesday in the Tuscan port of Carrara after rescuing 195 people.


A law approved by Italy’s parliament in February requires charity-run ships to sail to port immediately after a rescue, preventing them from organising multiple operations at sea.


Both Sea-Watch and Open Arms also face fines of up to 10,000 euros after running foul of the Italian regulations.