EU, UN urge Italy, Malta to let in drifting migrant ship

Friday, 15 Jun, 2018

Spain has offered to take in a humanitarian ship stranded in worldwide waters with 629 refugees aboard, prompting Italy's new anti-establishment government to claim victory in its bid to "stop the death boats".

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had been criticized for not offering to take in the boat at a French port, broke his silence on the topic during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, denouncing the "cynicism and irresponsibility of the Italian government", government spokesperson Benjamin Griveaux said at a press conference.

The MV Aquarius as migrants and refugees are rescued by the SOS Mediterranee organisation in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan Coast, September 14, 2017.

The Council of Europe welcomed Spain's move, with the organization's Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, tweeting: "Saving lives at sea is an obligation that states must always uphold".

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in a tweet that "Malta is going to send fresh supplies to the ship".

Anelise praised the teams of staff on the vessel: "The teams here are very calm, they say the situation is under control and we continue heading north towards the east part of Malta and towards Italy". "This is a European issue".

A private rescue ship carrying 629 migrants remained at sea Sunday evening after more than a day of not receiving permission to dock in either Italy or the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta.

Italian newspaper Repubblica reported government sources said Mr Salvini's plan is to only let migrants enter Italian waters if they are on Italian, military or commercial boats. All three ships would then sail to the Spanish port of Valencia on a voyage expected to take four days.

"Turning this into a political weapon is is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

Doctors from another French charity, MSF (Doctors without Borders), are helping treat the migrants, who include seven pregnant women, 11 young children and 123 unaccompanied minors. "From today, Italy will also start to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration".

"You can't create a precedent that will enable one European country to offload onto other European countries", he continued.

"Our sole objective is to bring the people we've rescued, in hard conditions yesterday, to a port of safety", the group said in a statement.

"My aim is to guarantee a peaceful life for these youths in Africa and for our children in Italy", Salvini said, using the Twitter hashtag "We are shutting the ports".

European Union leaders in December had set an end-of-June deadline for an overhaul of rules to create a permanent mechanism to deal with migrants in the event of a new emergency.

The Italian government, and others like it including Britain's, want hundreds of people to drown to deter others from trying to flee to Europe to escape war, poverty and climate change.