Migrant rescue ship denied right to dock in Italy and Malta

The MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres, has been told by Italian authorities to stand by in its current position, 35 nautical miles from Italy and 27 nautical miles from Malta.

Salvini, also deputy prime minister, has continued with his anti-migrant rhetoric since taking charge of the interior ministry, asking on Friday for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to defend Italy, which he says is "under attack from the south".

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".

"From now also Italy begins to say NO to the traffic of human beings, NO to the business of illegal immigration".

The Maltese authorities have been insisting that since the rescue happened in the Libyan search and rescue area and was coordinated from Rome, Malta is neither the coordinating authority nor has the competence to settle this issue, thus it would not take in the migrants and asylum seekers.

"The people we saved yesterday were in a hard condition, at least 50 were at risk of drowning".

The Aquarius carrying would be immigrants arrives in the port of Catania, on the island of Sicily on March 21, 2017 after a rescue operation in the Mediterranean sea, where some 946 would be immigrants were rescued.

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

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The mayors of Palermo, Taranto, Messina and Reggio Calabria, have also said they would be ready to welcome the vessel. "My goal is to guarantee a peaceful life for these children in Africa and for our children in Italy", Salvini tweeted Sunday using the hashtag "We are shutting the ports".

Italian police questioned the boat's captain for more than four hours, according to the NGO, and journalists aboard were asked to hand over video footage of the rescue operation, which took place on June 5.

Under the worldwide law, people rescued in the sea should be brought to the closest and safest port for assistance.

The Maltese Rescue Coordination Center "is neither the competent nor the coordinating authority", the statement said.

"We need a real European border police that can act if necessary even if it displeases one of the (EU) states with external borders", she said in an interview with ARD public television.

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.

Driven by violent conflicts and extreme poverty, hundreds of thousands of migrants have reached southern Europe in recent years by crossing the Mediterranean in smugglers' boats that often are unseaworthy.

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