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US News Italy shuts ports to rescue ship with over 600 migrants

10:50  11 june  2018
10:50  11 june  2018 Source:   news.sky.com

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A group of more than 600 migrants appear to have become the first subjects of the new Italian government's tough immigration stance without having even set foot on Italian soil. The migrants were rescued in several separate operations in the Mediterranean over the past 24 hours - all of

ROME - Italy will refuse to let a humanitarian boat carrying more than 600 migrants dock at any of its ports and has asked the Mediterranean island of Malta to open its doors to the vessel, an official said on Sunday. Malta said it had nothing to do with the rescue operation

Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday said Malta cannot continue © Getty Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday said Malta cannot continue "to look the other way" and urged it to open its ports to an NGO migrant rescue ship which is in the Mediterranean with hundreds of people on board. Credit: MSF / SOS Mediterranee

A group of more than 600 migrants appear to have become the first subjects of the new Italian government's tough immigration stance without having even set foot on Italian soil.

A charity rescue vessel carrying 629 people is currently stranded in the Mediterranean after Matteo Salvini, the new Italian interior minister, reportedly refused to allow it to dock at Italian ports.

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(16 Apr 2017) Over 600 migrants from Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and Bangladesh were brought to safety in Italy on Easter Sunday and disembarked in Calabria from the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) rescue ship Vos Prudence.

Italy has brought in over half a million boat migrants since 2014, and a record 181,000 came last year. ( TRT World and Agencies ). Italy on Wednesday appealed to the European Union for help in taking in African migrants , even raising the possibility of closing its ports to humanitarian rescue ships to

Mr Salvini, whose far-right League Party's tough line on immigration won it a record number of votes in March's election, has promised to deport half a million illegal migrants from Italy.

He was sworn in as the country's interior minister on 1 June after the formation of an awkward anti-establishment coalition.

Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday said Malta cannot continue © Other Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday said Malta cannot continue "to look the other way" and urged it to open its ports to an NGO migrant rescue ship which is in the Mediterranean with hundreds of people on board. Credit: MSF / SOS Mediterranee

On Sunday night Mr Salvini tweeted an image of himself with the hashtag #chiudiamoiporti (close my door) followed by another saying: "Everyone in Europe is doing their own business, now Italy is also raising its head. STOP the business of illegal immigration."

Spain to take 629 migrants snubbed by Italy

  Spain to take 629 migrants snubbed by Italy Hundreds of stranded migrants on board a rescue vessel which Italian authorities refused to allow into its docks are to be taken to Spain - by Italian ships. The 629 people, including seven pregnant women and 100 unaccompanied children, are to make another four-day journey to Valencia just as the Aquarius ship was about to run out of supplies.People on board the vessel, which has been stranded in the Mediterranean after both Italy and Malta refused to allow it to dock at the weekend, will be transferred to Italian ships and be given food and water.

(16 Apr 2017) Over 600 migrants from Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and Bangladesh were brought to safety in Italy on Easter Sunday and disembarked in Calabria from the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) rescue ship Vos Prudence.

(16 Apr 2017) Over 600 migrants from Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and Bangladesh were brought to safety in Italy on Easter Sunday and disembarked in Calabria (24 Nov 2016) A ship transporting 600 rescued migrants to safety arrived in the Italian port of Catania on Thursday morning.

The vessel, the Aquarius, which is operated jointly by Medecine Sans Frontiers and SOS Medeterranee, was refused a port of disembarkation by the Italian authorities despite having been told to rescue the migrants by the same co-ordination centre.

The vessel was told to ask Malta to provide a disembarkation port, but Malta has also refused.

Several local mayors on Sicily are since reported to have said that the ship can dock in their ports, defying the orders of the interior ministry.

Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday said Malta cannot continue © Other Italy's new interior minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday said Malta cannot continue "to look the other way" and urged it to open its ports to an NGO migrant rescue ship which is in the Mediterranean with hundreds of people on board. Credit: MSF / SOS Mediterranee

However Sky News understands that these offers have not been communicated to the charities operating the Aquarius.

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Italy threatens to shut ports to vessels carrying migrants . Italy is struggling to deal with the sheer number of arrivals, and has threatened to close its ports to ships sailing under foreign flags which have rescued migrants at sea.

Italy ’s threat to close its ports for rescue vessels in the Mediterranean is nothing but a call for help addressed to the EU from the country, struggling with the influx of migrants , Sarah Adeyinka, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) cultural mediator, told RT.

Among the migrants on board are 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 children and seven pregnant women. The crew say they have enough food for another two to three days at sea.

The migrants were rescued in several separate operations in the Mediterranean over the past 24 hours - all of which had been carried out at the request of the Italian authorities who are now refusing disembarkation.

Speaking to Sky News, SOS Medeterranee's Nick Romaniuk said: "At 7am, the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) called our ship to ask them to proceed to a boat in distress. Aquarius complied.

A charity rescue vessel with 629 rescued migrants on board is being refused a port after the new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused them. Credit: MSF / SOS Mediterranee © Other A charity rescue vessel with 629 rescued migrants on board is being refused a port after the new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused them. Credit: MSF / SOS Mediterranee

"At 3.30pm they called again to say that European Union maritime patrol aircraft had spotted 2 rubber boats and asked Aquarius to change course to carry out the rescues."

Mr Romaniuk explained: "When Aquarius arrived they launched the rescue boats. Both rubber (migrant) boats were in bad condition and one broke apart as the team was arriving. Around 40 people were in the water.

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy will refuse to let a humanitarian boat carrying more than 600 migrants dock at any of its ports and has asked the FILE PHOTO: Migrants disembark from the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans

(16 Apr 2017) Over 600 migrants from Senegal, Gambia, Nigeria and Bangladesh were brought to safety in Italy on Easter Sunday and disembarked in Calabria from the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) rescue ship Vos Prudence.

"The team stabilised the situation and brought the people to safety on Aquarius.

"After that, we conducted three transfers from Italian Coast Guard vessels and one from an Italian merchant vessel. All of these events were co-ordinated by the MRCC in Rome. Now there are 629 people on board and the Ministry of Interior has said Aquarius cannot disembark in Italy because the ports are 'closed'."

The Aquarius appears to have become caught in a political tussle with worrying consequences. The Italian Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre operates as part of the Italian Coast Guard. It is not run by the interior ministry which is now under the control of Mr Salvini with his hard line on immigration.

Within hours of being sworn in, Mr Salvini was reiterating his pledge to deport half a million illegal migrants, most of whom would have arrived on rescue vessels but then failed to claim asylum in Italy.

"The good times for illegals are over... Get ready to pack your bags," Mr Salvini said, adding that the rescue charities were "substitute people-smugglers".

By Sunday evening there had been no official comment by the Italian interior ministry or the Maltese government which is also understood to have declined to allow the vessel to dock.

The complexities and conflicting views on how to cope with the continued exodus of migrants from the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, via Libya, to Europe have divided political opinion across the EU.

The rescue charities insist their role is simply to save lives and that returning people to Libya is not an option because of the dire security situation in the country.

However, critics say the presence of rescue charities in the Mediterranean encourages more migrants to attempt the crossing.

A controversial decision by the European Union to provide funding for the Libyan coast guard was supposed to improve their ability to carry out interceptions and rescues before migrants leave Libyan waters. But many migrant boats, coordinated by smugglers, are still getting through.

Between January and May this year, more than 22,500 migrants had reached European shores: 42% arrived in Italy from Libya and the remainder were divided between Greece, from Turkey (38%) and Spain, from Morocco (20%), according to then International Organisation for Migration, the UN Migration Agency.

Conditions for migrants who are either held in smuggler-run camps in Libya or sent back there from failed attempts to reach Europe are grim.

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