MIGRANT RESCUE SHIP HALTED: Illegal waste treatment allegations immobilise Aquarius

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Italian prosecutors allege the organisation Doctors Without Borders: "shared, planned and carried out a criminal project. (File image) Photo Credit: Shutterstock

A PROSECUTOR’S Office from Sicily, Italy has launched an investigation into 24 individuals, the majority of which are members of the Doctors Without Borders NGO, and has immobilised the migrant rescue vessel Aquarius.

The NGO rescue boat had been used for the rescue of immigrants ferrying the Mediterranean Sea.

The Catania Prosecutor’s office launched their investigation into Doctors without Borders under the accusation of the illegal treatment of hazardous waste.

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Italian law enforcement officials claim “there was an illegal waste treatment on 44 occasions and for a total of 24,000 kilos of waste.”

The members of Doctors Without Borders are alleged to include those who were in charge of the management of the migrant rescue missions which have seen the vessel Aquarius safely deliver migrants to Spain.

The Prosecutor’s office has also frozen €460,000 from accounts of the NGO, funds, they allege, which were saved having neglected to dispose of the hazardous waste in the proper manner.

The Italian prosecutors allege the organisation: “shared, planned and carried out a criminal project for the illegal elimination of a large quantity of hazardous waste and with the risk that they were infectious, some toilets, derived from relief activities for immigrants with ships Vos Prudence (from March 2017 to July 2017) and Aquarius (from January 2017 to May 2018).”

Supporters of the NGO have condemned the decision of the Italian prosecutors to immobilise the Aquarius boat for its alleged irregularities in the treatment of waste.

Karline Kleijer, of Doctors Without Borders, considers the move “a disproportionate measure and with the aim of criminalising for the umpteenth time the medical-humanitarian action in the sea”.

The news comes as the number of undocumented migrants arriving in Spain has broken records two months before the end of the year, according to government statistics.

Although, the Spanish government has denied any link between allowing the role of the Aquarius rescue boat, which docked in Valencia City this year, and the surge in the number of arrivals.

Number of migrant arrivals in Spain so far this year tops historic highs

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