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Italy Denies Permission for Migrant Rescue Vessel to Dock

15 June, 2018, 15:13 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • Map showing Malta's SAR region, the migrant's rescue location, Lampedusa and Malta relative to the Aquarius path and location at 4.51pm on Sunday

The 629 migrants on board include 134 children and seven pregnant women, NGOs operating the boat said.

The Italian government said it had written to Malta asking to let the vessel, Aquarius, dock there.

The decision by Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini, who is also head of the far-right League party, represented an opening gambit to make good on his electoral promises to halt the flow of migrants into the country. The remaining 400 were transferred to Aquarius from Italian military boats after being rescued by mselves or by merchant ships that ran into m.

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat thanked Spain's prime minister and promised to send supplies to the ship but, he said, the matter is not closed.

Spanish socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez offered to allow the Aquarius to dock in Valencia, insisting it was an "obligation" to do so.

SOS Mediterranee said an approaching storm would bring with it waves of over 2 metres (6.5 ft) making any trip to Spain highly uncomfortable.

The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center told Aquarius on Sunday to stand by in their current position, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) tweeted.

"People are still fleeing Libya while the Aquarius is away from the search and rescue area in the Central Mediterranean, where rescue capacities are already totally insufficient", the charity's vice president, Sophie Beau, said.

However, the mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris and several other Italian politicians have publicly denounced the decision of their Interior Minister and said they are ready to safe port to the ship.

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The ship is named Aquarius and operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the rescue organization SOS Mediterranee.

The European Commission had urged member states to act with responsibility, calling on both Italy and Malta to respond.

Italy has had to deal with hundreds of thousands of migrants in recent years coming via Libya to reach Europe.

Beau said a "one-off solution" had been found for the Aquarius after Spain offered to take in its passengers following refusals from the nearest countries, Italy and Malta.

More than 600 people are stuck aboard the ship Aquarius, run by a French charity, which is now waiting between Malta and Italy while the two countries row over who should take responsibility.

"Enough!" Mr Salvini said.

"Italy broke global rules and caused a stand-off", Maltese premier Joseph Muscat tweeted.

Given that the aid ship had no emergency, Italy chose to appeal to other European countries "so they don't leave Italy alone yet again in managing the migratory flows, which is a phenomenon that is all of Europe's business", Di Maio said in a Facebook post.

He noted that other European countries are very much involved in current rescue operations in the Mediterranean - including a German aid group now off Libya - but no country is stepping up to actually take in the migrants. Another 21 patients suffered severe chemical burns from exposure to sea water mixed with fuel, while others risk pneumonia and yet others need immediate surgery for orthopedic issues.

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