Monday, 24 September, 2018

Italy 'to shut ports' to boat carrying over 600 refugees

PN MEP Roberta Metsola PN MEP Roberta Metsola
Steven Clarke | 11 June, 2018, 15:21

"If anyone thinks I won't move a muscle while we have another summer of landings, landings and more landings, well that's not what I'm going to do", Salvini told reporters.

While she does call on the European Union not to leave Malta and Italy on their own, Metsola's dig at Muscat contrasts with the message of support relayed on Sunday by Opposition leader Adrian Delia for government's stand.

A number of mayors across southern Italy are pushing back against Matteo Salvini's decision Sunday to close off the country's ports to a rescue ship carrying more than 600 migrants.

Despite the claim by Mayor Orlando that the government stands in opposition to worldwide law by closing the ports to migrant smuggling operations, a distinguished expert on global maritime law Admiral Paolo Caffio has given his verdict, stating that not only is it legal, but there is also precedent, reports Il Giornale.

European charity SOS Mediterranee said on Twitter earlier that its rescue boat, Aquarius, had taken on board 629 migrants, including 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 other children and seven pregnant women.

In another tweet he says, "Today even the ship Sea Watch 3, a German NGO and the Dutch flag, is off the coast of Libya waiting to bring the umpteenth load of immigrants, to Italy".

Salvini pointed to Malta's unwillingness in accusing Europe as a whole of leaving Italy on its own to deal with the refugee crisis.

Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini announced on Sunday that all Italian ports were closed to the rescue boat, called Aquarius.

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"Italy has stopped bowing our heads and obeying", Salvini said in a Facebook post.

The spokesman said it took place in the Libyan search and rescue area and was headed up by the rescue coordination centre in Rome, meaning Malta has no legal obligation to take in the migrants. All passengers were offloaded to the Aquarius to be taken to land.

According to the daily Corriere Della Sera, the letter describes Malta's capital, Valletta, as the "most secure port" and the boat should thus dock there.

"Malta is neither the competent nor the coordinating authority in this case".

SOS Mediterranee said late Sunday that it had received instructions from Italian authorities to hold position between Malta and Italy after previously heading north.

SOS Mediterranee said Maltese search-and-rescue authorities were contacted by their Italian counterparts "to find the best solution for the well-being and safety" of the people on the ship. We have always welcomed rescue boats and vessels who saved lives at sea.

Italy's new interior minister has refused to let 600 migrants disembark in Italy, leaving rescue ship in limbo in Mediterranean.

The United Nations says at least 785 migrants have died crossing the sea so far this year.

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