Posted on November 22, 2018 by Ilias Kiritsis
Italian authorities have called for the seizure of the migrant rescue vessel, Aquarius, for allegedly dumping over 24 tons of potentially toxic waste in Italian ports.
Doctors without borders (MSF) issued a statement on November the 20th, going over the allegations, suggesting that this action on behalf of the Italian government has dealt a heavy blow to aid groups working in the Mediterranean.
The allegations suggest that the Aquarius has been dumping dangerous and potentially toxic refuse as ordinary garbage, in over 11 Italian ports.
What the Italian authorities (specifically, prosecutors from the Sicilian city of Catania) are referring to is, food leftovers, clothing and sanitary waste left behind by the migrants onboard the Aquarius and the Vos Prudence.
The two vessels have been chartered by MSF to aid in migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
According to the prosecutors, a number of the rescued migrants have been found to be suffering from HIV, meningitis and tuberculosis, making the vessel’s waste, potentially toxic in nature.
SOS Mediteranee have condemned the action as a politically driven attack, meant to diminish humanitarian efforts in the area.
“After two years of defamatory and unfounded allegations of collusion with human traffickers against our humanitarian work, we are now accused of organised crime aimed at illicit waste trafficking. This latest attempt by the Italian authorities to stop humanitarian lifesaving search and rescue capacity at any cost is sinister” said Karline Kleijer, head of emergencies for the MSF in a statement.
MSF and SOS Mediterranee have been chartering the vessel in question for the last two years.
Aquarius is currently docked in the French port of Marseille but could potentially face seizure should it enter Italian waters.