Migrant rescue ship idling between Italy, Malta as both countries refuse entry

Migrant rescue ship idling between Italy, Malta as both countries refuse entry

Migrant rescue ship idling between Italy, Malta as both countries refuse entry

"Malta should hold strong and firm to safeguard its national interest", Delia said. "This could compromise all the work and cooperation between us over the past few years".

A humanitarian ship with more than 600 migrants on board remains adrift in worldwide waters as Italy and Malta are at loggerheads over which country should take them.

Doctors Without Borders operates the Aquarius ship, together with the SOS Mediterranean Organisations.

Local media have been suggesting that by instructing Acquarius to stand by its current position in deep waters, new Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who had been criticising NGOs for carrying out the role of taxis for migrants, has started implementing anti-migrant policies.

On Sunday, Salvini said Italy was saying "no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration".

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Malta has refused to take in the Aquarius.

Among those saved and brought on board the Aquarius are 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 younger children and seven pregnant women, the SOS Mediterranee said.

The Aquarius and its passengers were caught up in a crackdown promoted by the right-wing partner in Italy's new populist government, which has vowed to stop the country from becoming the "refugee camp of Europe".

And the crisis between the Mediterranean countries may be far from being over, as Italian newspaper Repubblica reported that 800 more people have been saved by both Italian and worldwide boats in Libyan waters overnight.

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

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Malta is accusing Italy of violating global norms by instructing a migrant rescue ship with 629 people aboard to stay at sea while a diplomatic standoff plays out over where it can dock. The Rome-based rescue coordination centre gave the instructions.

The group said it "urgently requests a swift resolution and a designated port of safety". Some 400 of the migrants were rescued by the Italian Navy, the Italian coastguard and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius.

Despite the claim by Mayor Orlando that the government stands in opposition to worldwide law by closing the ports to migrant smuggling operations, a distinguished expert on global maritime law Admiral Paolo Caffio has given his verdict, stating that not only is it legal, but there is also precedent, reports Il Giornale. The cause of death was yet to be determined.

Italy has had to deal with hundreds of thousands of migrants in recent years coming via Libya to reach Europe.

The United Nations estimates at least 500 people have died in 2018 trying to cross the central Mediterranean, following more than 2,800 fatalities past year.

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