Italy vows migrant ship can not dock

Carlo Herman  AFP  Getty Images

Carlo Herman AFP Getty Images

"Given that the migrants were rescued off the coast of Libya, the closest ports are likely to be either Sicily in Italy or Malta". But, the aid group in charge of the ship says - making the long voyage to Spain would be a daunting journey. But he quoted Macron as telling Tuesday's weekly Cabinet meeting: "If any ship was closer to France's shores, it could obviously dock on the French coast".

The dispute was among the first consequences of political upheaval in Italy, where anti-migrant leaders recently rose to power with a pledge to crack down on new arrivals from the Middle East and Africa.

Sanchez went on say that "It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe harbour to these people in accordance with global law".

In a statement the country's new prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, said he had given permission for the MS Aquarius to dock in Valencia, adding his country would welcome all those on board.

The move is reportedly part of new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's mission to halt the flow of incoming migrants, following up on his previous electoral promises.

"He has once again shown that we are under an extreme far-right government" he said, reports The Guardian.

After two years at sea in which it has saved almost 30,000 migrants, the Aquarius rescue ship is charting a course for a head-on collision with European governments.

Aquarius, a ship operated by SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), had rescued migrants from inflatable boats off the coast of Libya last weekend.

Tweeting on Sunday, Salvini said: "Starting today, Italy, too, begins to say NO to the trafficking of human beings, NO to the business of clandestine immigration".

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Italy's refusal to allow the Aquarius ship to dock at an Italian port risked "creating a risky situation for all those involved".

"Italy is done bending over backwards and obeying - this time THERE IS SOMEONE WHO SAYS NO", he wrote on Twitter. Although there were no immediate emergencies on board, the spokesman said, there were many who needed medical care for chemical burns, hypothermia and dehydration. "We must urgently find a means to help these rescued migrants and work for a comprehensive method of supporting migrants and States throughout Europe", he said.

The operation, they said, will unload the Aquarius, which has been carried for three days more than 100 people over its capacity.

The French organisation said those brought on board included 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 small children and the seven pregnant women.

Migrants aboard SOS Mediterranee's Aquarius ship after being rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, in a photo released by by French NGO "SOS Mediterranee".

Mayors of Naples and Palermo in turn vented their anger at Salvini, as they stated that their cities would be more than happy to accept those in need of shelter despite the fact that both cities had been suffering from major migrant influx in the past five years.

"There are more than 600 people onboard, they are exhausted, they want to get to safety, there is, of course, a lot of tension among them because they are not sure what is going to happen", she added.

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