Branding Italy’s decision to close its ports to a boat of 629 migrants “shameful”, UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi demanded European Union (EU) countries make it as easy as possible for open borders-backing NGOs to continue ferrying immigrants from Africa to Europe.
“It is shameful. As a European, I felt shame — shame — that there was a boat — there is a boat — in the Mediterranean, and for several days nobody wanted to take these people,” he said Wednesday, as the migrant-packed vessel rejected by Italy was on its way to Spain.
“I think that closing ports, whoever does it, threatens rescue at sea, as we have seen in the case of the Aquarius, and therefore is not the right solution,” he told Reuters journalists in Geneva.
“We have to have predictable arrangements, so that rescue boats know where to go,” he added, warning that “otherwise, this [could be] a disincentive to rescue, [and] people may lose their lives if this doesn’t happen.”