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  4. Migrant rescue a legal and moral imperative - Berlin

Migrant rescue a legal and moral imperative - Berlin

After Crosetto says German funding for rescue NGO 'very serious'

(ANSA) - ROME, SEP 24 - Saving migrants from drowning is a legal, humanitarian and moral duty, a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told ANSA on Sunday after Defence Minister Guido Crosetto described as "very serious" the fact that the German government funds NGOs performing search and rescue in the Central Mediterranean.
    "Saving people who drown and find themselves in distress at sea is a legal, humanitarian and moral duty," the spokesperson said.
    "Like the national coastguard organisation, particularly the Italian one, the civil rescuers in the central Mediterranean use their boats to perform rescue operations, saving people in distress at sea," he added.
    On Friday sources at the office of Premier Giorgia Meloni voiced "great astonishment at the news reported by ANSA according to which a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry had announced imminent funding to NGOs for a project to assist migrants on Italian territory and a project of 'rescues' at sea". "The Italian government will immediately contact the German authorities for clarification," the sources said.
    It later emerged that the NGO to receive the funding is SOS Humanity, which operates rescue vessels in the central Mediterranean.
    The NGO itself said it had been allocated 790,000 euros.
    Separately, the lay Catholic Sant'Egidio Community charity said on Friday had signed a fresh deal with Berlin to fund migrant activities in Italy, as part of a years-long relationship.
    "The (German) Federal Government is working hard to reform the Common European Asylum System in order to create a sustainable and, above all, solidarity-based system for migration and asylum in the European Union - also as a basic condition for a functioning Schengen system and for the opening of internal borders," continued the foreign ministry spokesman, reiterating what had already been stated on Friday.
    "The foreign ministry is currently implementing a financial support programme set up by the German Bundestag. The aim is to support both civil rescue at sea and projects on land for people rescued at sea," he added.
    In an interview to La Stampa published on Sunday Crosetto said that "Berlin pretends not to realise that, in doing so (funding the NGO, ed.), it creates a problem for a country that is in theory 'friendly'".
    "Faced with our request for help, is this their response? We did not behave in the same way when Angela Merkel convinced the EU to invest billions of euros in Turkey to stop migrants arriving in Germany from the Middle East," added the minister.
    Crosetto denied, however, that there is a "European plot" against the Italian government.
    "It is the ideological approach of a certain political left that does not take into account the consequences of its theories on the people," he said. (ANSA).


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