India’s top court strikes down anonymous election funding scheme

India’s top court strikes down anonymous election funding scheme
India’s top court strikes down anonymous election funding scheme

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LONDON: Organizations involved in Mediterranean rescue operations are urging the European Union to overhaul its current policies, which they claim are partly responsible for the drownings of over 3,000 migrants in 2023, the Guardian reported on Thursday.
In 2023, the Italian government adopted new rules which significantly curtailed the operational capabilities of NGOs, endangering the lives of individuals attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
It mandates that upon completing a rescue, these organizations must directly proceed to a designated port, preventing them from conducting further rescues, the groups said.
The International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants project highlights the grim statistic that out of nearly 30,000 migrants who have died or disappeared since 2014, at least 27,088 have drowned. Despite the absence of a unified EU search-and-rescue framework, international maritime law requires coastal states to aid vessels in distress, a responsibility often neglected, with NGOs facing numerous challenges in their efforts to provide assistance.
“It’s our legal duty to inform all of these countries’ maritime rescue and coordination centres when we find an unseaworthy boat in distress,'' Emanuele Nannini, who heads Italian NGO Emergency’s rescue missions, told the Guardian. He explained that the first country to respond – whether that’s Libya, Tunisia, Malta or Italy – will coordinate the rescue.
“Italy is repeatedly the only country to reply,” he added. “The other coastal states just ignore us. Once a rescue is completed, we’re immediately assigned a port, which makes it almost impossible to perform additional rescues – unless the boats in distress are on our direct route to the port.”
The vast majority of rescue operations for migrant boats departing from Northern Africa across the Mediterranean are undertaken by the Italian Coast Guard and other official agencies, with non-governmental organizations contributing to a relatively small fraction of these efforts, the Guardian reported.
Meanwhile, Italy has adopted a policy of assigning ports for rescue vessels that are significantly distant from their usual areas of operation, necessitating lengthy additional voyages. This policy has notably affected their patrol and rescue capabilities in the Mediterranean.
According to a 2023 report from SOS Humanity, such practices resulted in rescue ships spending an additional 374 days at sea, covering distances that significantly exceed the necessity.The report further revealed that over the course of a year, these vessels travelled more than 150,500 kilometers, while highlighting that these demands only target humanitarian boats, and not the Italian coastguard.
“This is not a coincidence, but a political tactic,” the report said.
During the same period, the Italian NGO Emergency succeeded in rescuing 1,077 individuals through 14 missions in the central Mediterranean.
On numerous occasions, rather than directing these missions to the nearest ports, such as those in Sicily, the vessels were ordered to dock in far-off locations like Tuscany, significantly delaying their return to the rescue zones.
The Italian government claims such measures help to distribute arrivals, but NGOs argue they cost lives and increase fuel costs, the Guardian reported.
“Costs for such detours are exorbitant,” Nannini said. “We often have to pay an additional €50,000 (£43,000) per rescue in fuel alone.”
However, he stated that he was most concerned about the people the organization was unable to rescue.  “Sailing to these faraway ports hinders us from doing rescue missions for at least eight days. In the meantime, people are drowning.”
Despite the dangerous crossing, the majority of migrants attempting to traverse the Mediterranean do reach their destinations. Late last year, the EUreached a consensus aimed at distributing the financial and logistical burden of hosting asylum seekers among all member states.
Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, hailed the agreement as an effective response to a collective European challenge, emphasizing that it would allow European authorities to control migration into the EU, rather than traffickers.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty, Oxfam, Caritas, and Save the Children have criticized the changes, claiming that they will result in a "cruel system" in an open letter.
Italy's right-wing government has also announced a potential deal with Albania, which could see up to 36,000 migrants transferred from Italy to Albanian reception centers each year. Amnesty International described the proposal as "unworkable, harmful, and unlawful."
Matteo de Bellis, an Amnesty migration and asylum researcher, stated that the agreement would subject “people in distress [are] subjected to long and unnecessary transfers by sea and ending up in automatic and potentially prolonged detention, in violation of international law.”
Nannini expressed frustration with EU policies, particularly when considering the conditions from which people were fleeing and the risks they faced along the way, from the sea crossing to detention centres in Libya.
“It seems there is political will to keep Europe closed because we don’t want to share our privilege with people who might have had less luck; who couldn’t choose where they were born,” he said. “It’s disappointing – and dangerous for those attempting to cross the Mediterranean.”
 

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