Migrants stranded: Malta says Italy going 'against global rules'

Lester Mason
June 11, 2018

SOS Mediterranee said the passengers on its ship, the Aquarius, included 400 people who were picked up by the Italian navy, the country's coastguard and private cargo ships and transferred.

"In the meantime, the Maltese government is concerned at the Italian authorities' directions being given to Acquarius on the high seas which go against worldwide rules, and risk creating a unsafe situation for all those involved".

More than 600,000 migrants have reached Italy by boat from Africa in the past five years.

Guglielmo Picchi said that Italy had been "left alone by the European Union" to deal with the migrant crisis after Italy refused to let a ship carrying migrants dock as he demanded President Macron opens his ports to the boats.

Trump-Kim summit: As both leaders arrived in Singapore for the historic summit, North Korea's state media said its leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump would discuss a "permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism" on the Korean Peninsula, denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern.

The move by Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, who is also head of the far-right League, is an attempt to make good on his electoral promises to halt the flow of migrants into the country.

"From today, Italy will also start to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration."

"The Mediterranean is the sea of all the countries that face it, and it (Malta) can't imagine that Italy will continue to face this giant phenomenon (of migration) in solitude", the ministers said.

The Maltese Rescue Coordination Center "is neither the competent nor the coordinating authority", the statement said.

As of Monday morning, the Aquarius was circling in worldwide waters off Malta after the Italian maritime coordination centre in Rome ordered the vessel to stay put (see map).

Salvini threatened Sunday to close access to Italian ports for migrant rescue ships if Malta refuses to take the rescued migrants.

"Our only objective is the disembarkation in a port of safety of the people that we rescued yesterday in hard conditions", it said, adding that it "took good note" of the Italian Interior Ministry's statements.

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. The group said it "urgently requests a swift resolution and a designated port of safety". Salvini has attacked aid agencies for providing what he called a "taxi service" to migrants from Africa to Italy.

More than 50 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean at the beginning of the month, with 48 bodies found off the southern coast of Tunisia.

To the east, Libya's coast guard intercepted 152 migrants, including women and children, from two boats stopped in the Mediterranean off the coast of the western Zuwara district Saturday.

Libya was plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising.

However, Italian officials say 13,500 migrants have been registered so far this year.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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