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UNHCR Appeals To Italy Not To Impede Migrants Rescue Boats

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FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2021 file photo, migrants and refugees from different African nationalities wait for assistance aboard an overcrowded wooden boat, as aid workers of the Spanish NGO Open Arms approach them in the Mediterranean Sea, (AP Photo/Bruno Thevenin)

(AP) — The head of the U.N. refugee agency says he has urged Italy not to unnecessarily impede NGOs that operate migrant rescue ships in the central Mediterranean, as warmer weather is expected to bring the usual seasonal uptick in the departure of smugglers’ boats from Libya.

Charity boats “fill an important void” in the absence of collective EU efforts, Filippo Grandi told reporters, a day after meeting with Italian Premier Mario Draghi and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio.

He meets Friday with Pope Francis. Charities that operate the boats complain that safety measures required by Italy are tantamount to a block on their operations.

 

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