Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Italy closes ports to migrant ship in row with Malta

The migrants being rescued The migrants being rescued
Deanna Wagner | 11 June, 2018, 14:36

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.

Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat also refused to take in the Aquarius ship of the humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee.

Salvini, the leader of the far-right League, was rejected by Malta who said the ship fell under Italy's jurisdiction.

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

Italy has denied permission for a rescue ship to drop off 629 migrants after Malta refused to open its ports.

Trump-Kim summit: As both leaders arrived in Singapore for the historic summit, North Korea's state media said its leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump would discuss a "permanent and durable peace-keeping mechanism" on the Korean Peninsula, denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and other issues of mutual concern. "The Mediterranean is the sea of all the countries that face it, and it (Malta) can't imagine that Italy will continue to face this giant phenomenon in solitude".

The Maltese government, however, was not moved.

The spokesman said it took place in the Libyan search and rescue area and was headed up by the rescue coordination centre in Rome, meaning Malta has no legal obligation to take in the migrants.

G7 Summit far from harmonious
He told CNN's Jake Tapper that "of course" Trump's tweets about Trudeau actually had to do with North Korea "in large part". Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland: "Canada does not conduct its diplomacy through ad hominem attacks".

Now, the Captain of this vessel refused to go to Malta because there is a political point to all this.

Mr Salvini's stance could herald the eventual closing of all Italian ports to NGO vessels with migrants on board, the Italian press speculated. The group said it "urgently requests a swift resolution and a designated port of safety".

SOS Mediterranee said Maltese search-and-rescue authorities were contacted by their Italian counterparts "to find the best solution for the well-being and safety" of the people on the ship.

The migrants were rescued by SOS Mediterranee's vessel Aquarius in six separate night-time operations in the central Mediterranean on Saturday.

"The rescue ship's crew pulled 229 migrants from the water or from traffickers" unseaworthy boats on Saturday night, including 123 unaccompanied children and seven pregnant women.

More than 50 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean at the beginning of the month, with 48 bodies found off the southern coast of Tunisia. The migrants were taken to a naval base in Tripoli.

The summer of 2016 saw a surge in mass drownings in the Mediterranean as Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II peaked with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere.

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