Monday, 18 June, 2018

Italy shuts ports to migrant boat, tells Malta to open its doors

Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini threatened to bar rescue ships from docking in the country's ports after Malta refused to take hundreds of migrants Migrants remain at sea as Italy-Malta standoff intensifies
Sammy Stanley | 14 June, 2018, 16:04

In the meantime Conte said that Italy has sent two patrol ships with doctors on board "ready to intervene and ensure the health of anyone on board the Aquarius who might have the need".

Since Sanchez announced that Spain would accept the boat, several Spanish regions have offered to take in the new arrivals.

Malta insisted that Italy was legally obliged to take the vessel in and refused to allow the vessel into Malta, before Spain ultimately stepped in and agreed to take in the Aquarius.

Late Monday afternoon, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called a cabinet meeting this evening to discuss the issue.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat posted a thank-you tweet that also blamed Italy for the ship's prolonged journey.

The mayor of Madrid Manuela Carmena said the capital could take in "20 families up to a maximum of 100 people".

Salvini and Italian Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli, who is part of the 5-Star Movement faction in the new government, said in a joint statement Sunday that it was Malta's responsibility to "open its ports for the hundreds of the rescued on the NGO ship Aquarius".

He added: "It will be necessary to sit down and discuss how to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future".

"It is our obligation to help to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and to offer a safe port to these people", his office said in a statement. Sanchez said the invitation, his first global initiative since toppling his corruption-tainted conservative predecessor, was a way to "comply with worldwide commitments regarding humanitarian emergencies".

On Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte asked Malta to take the African migrants aboard the Aquarius, but Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat rejected the request, arguing his country had no obligation under worldwide law to accept them.

"Forty people have been recovered and are being provided food, water, and medical care on board Trenton".

Pompeo: No sanctions relief for North Korea until complete denuclearization
Jimmy Kimmel mocked and questioned President Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his monologue Tuesday night. The traditional US calendar for other major drills would not pick up again until next spring, officials say.

A US Navy ship rescued 40 migrants off the coast of Libya Tuesday, according to US military officials.

As the rhetoric intensified, the Aquarius remained on standby in the Mediterranean Sea with its 629 passengers, including 123 unaccompanied minors.

Others have burns from boat fuel mixed with seawater or are suffering from hypothermia.

The number of migrants arriving in Spain has been on the rise, Benavides reports, while the number of sea arrivals in Italy "has dropped 77 percent compared to this time past year, following controversial deals with the Libyan Coast Guard and investigations into NGO search-and-rescues".

Italy and Malta held firm despite the heavy diplomatic pressure, with Italy's new interior minister, Matteo Salvini, clearly using the high seas drama as a pretext to force the hand of Italy's European neighbours. Malta has refused to let the boat dock as well, despite calls from the European Union and the United Nations refugee agency to do so.

Macron has faced criticism from some leftist opposition parties and members of his own Republic on the Move party for not offering to take in the 600 people on board the Aquarius.

The migrants were onboard the Aquarius, a rescue vessel operated by aid group SOS Mediterranee, which has been stuck in the Mediterranean Sea since Saturday.

But efforts to break the stalemate between Italy and Malta are expected to continue.

Cochetel also urged other governments to support countries like Italy and Malta who are taking in thousands of sea rescues.

The migrants were rescued in six separate nighttime operations in the central Mediterranean on Saturday.

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