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No agreement on code of conduct for Mediterranean rescue groups

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The majority of relief organisations carrying out private rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea have refused to sign on to a code of conduct.

This development came after a meeting with Italian government officials in Rome on Monday.

“Doctors without Borders did not sign the document,’’ Gabriele Eminente, director-general of the organisation’s Italy office, said.

The German organisation Jugend Rettet also refused to agree to the conditions put forward at the talks held in Italy’s Interior Ministry.

The Italian government by creating a code of conduct had hoped to tighten regulation of rescue operations for migrants in distress at sea.

However, organisation members stated that the process had made them feel criminalised.

Much of the migrant rescues that take place in the Mediterranean are currently conducted by NGOs, particularly Doctors without Borders, which operates a large ship.

Already this year, around 2,400 migrants have died while attempting to cross the perilous sea route to Europe. The vast majority of arrivals are in Italy.

The most contentious points in the proposed code were the provisions that armed police officers being allowed to travel on the boats, and that transfers from smaller rescue boats to larger ones be made more difficult.

Recently, NGOs have been in negotiations with the Italian government about the controversial code.

Report said the deadline for signatures has however expired.

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