WORLD

Int’l aid body slams EU for not allowing rescue ship

The head of a global aid body on Monday condemned the European Union for blocking a humanitarian vessel with 47 irregular migrants to its ports.

"We call on European governments to find a durable solution that prevents further deaths in the Mediterranean," said Francesco Rocca, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in a statement.

On Jan. 19, a rescue ship run by a Germany-based humanitarian group, the Sea Watch 3, rescued 47 irregular migrants off the Libyan coast.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused to allow the boat to the ports.

The IFRC head called on "the Italian government to let the Sea-Watch vessel dock, and to allow the people on board to disembark and access the help they need. They are human beings, not numbers".

"Even during war -- when hate and division are part of the daily fabric of political discourse -- castaways are protected, thanks to the Geneva Conventions," Rocca added.

"There is no war today in the Mediterranean Sea: the European Union is at peace. And yet no one is protecting the lives of people escaping torture and rape in Libya," he added.

"Saving lives must be the priority of all governments," he added.

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