Spain Takes on Migrant Ship Rejected by Italy, Malta

  • Spain Takes on Migrant Ship Rejected by Italy, Malta

Spain Takes on Migrant Ship Rejected by Italy, Malta

But at the same time, the responses of other nations in the region seem to support what Italy's Interior Minister is saying.

Italy's new deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, had said the country would not allow the ship to dock in any of its ports.

A private rescue ship carrying the migrants remained on a northward course in the Mediterranean Sea after more than a day of not receiving permission to dock in either Italy or Malta.

The 77-metre ship, the Aquarius, was effectively stranded on Monday in global waters in the Mediterranean, between Sicily and Malta, while its captain tried to find a secure port. Drinking water supplies are unlimited as the ship has its own water purification system, but the passengers survive mostly on energy biscuits, prepackaged warm rice, tea and bread.

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

"As such Malta will not take the said vessel in its ports".

He said: "We have doctors on board who are taking care of them but it's not definitive care so they do need to be disembarked as soon as possible so they can get the best treatment that they can".

Malta said the rescue operations took place in global waters off Libya and were coordinated by Italy.

Salvini, leader of the right-wing League, had promised voters ahead of the country's recent general election that it would act tough against immigration. Malta objected, saying that it had been Italian authorities who coordinated the rescue to begin with, The Associated Press writes.

The Maltese Rescue Coordination Centre "is neither the competent nor the coordinating authority", the statement said. "We're closing the ports". But it wasn't certain if the voyage was feasible given the distance and how long the rescue vessel had been at sea.

Amid the political dispute, The Aquarius, a rescue ship belonging to the SOS Mediterraneee charity, has been stuck in the Mediterranean Sea with its passengers, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women.

A ship with 629 migrants on board remains stranded between Malta and Sicily as the crew called off a planned trip to Spain after deeming the journey too risky.

Following the Spanish offer, Salvini told reporters that his approach had been vindicated.

In an attempt to ease the stalemate, a number of mayors of port cities in Italy on Monday said that they would allow the ship to dock in their cities.

"Our land has always been one of refuge, I don't know how you can send away 629 human lives".

"The boat is now heading north towards a secure port", SOS Mediterranee tweeted without specifying its destination, though virtually every such migrant boat over the past five years ended up in Italy.

However, Italian officials say 13,500 migrants have been registered so far this year. He accused Italy, which coordinated the rescue, of violating worldwide norms governing sea rescues.

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 summer of 2016 saw a surge in mass drownings in the Mediterranean, at the peak of Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II.