Economy

United Nations envoy: Italy’s rejection of migrant ship ‘shameful

United Nations envoy: Italy’s rejection of migrant ship ‘shameful”

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, of the anti-immigrant League, has spearheaded a hardline stand on curbing arrivals from across the Mediterranean as a priority for the new populist coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement.

"If an official apology doesn't arrive, Prime Minister Conte would be right not to go to France", Salvini told reporters.

France's Finance Ministry hoped to shortly reschedule a meeting with Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria that was canceled in the midst of a row over immigration, a French government source said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has drawn criticism from her own conservative party for her open-door migrant policy, adopted in 2015, which also provoked a rise in support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Italy has defended its decision to refuse the Aquarius entry, saying it has never abandoned the ship operated by the aid group SOS Mediterranee and is escorting it to Valencia. Justice Minister Dolores Delgado said that Italy may have violated global humanitarian law, while Ximo Puig, president of the Valencia region, commented: "Turning this into a political weapon is despicable.it is clear that Europe must act more wisely, but we can not let these people die at sea".

A migrant receives clothes from a staff member on the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres on their way to Spain, June 13, 2018.

They were saved during several rescue operations off the coast of Libya.

Successive governments have accused other European Union states have ignored pleas to take in some of the newcomers and share the cost of their care.

He has repeatedly accused charities of working with human traffickers but said Italy would not stop rescuing migrant boats itself. The border crossing point at Ventimiglia has been the scene of protests and desperation for years as France has refused to let in migrants, many of whom are seeking to reach family in France or Germany.

Under EU rules, migrants must apply for asylum in the European country where they first arrive.

That has put pressure on Italy and Greece, the entry points for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty.

Salvini's League campaigned during the March 4 national election on a strong anti-migrant agenda that included promises of mass expulsions of migrants already here. The port is some 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) from where the ship had been on standby since Saturday night.

"It's a relief for everyone, our teams and of course above all for the survivors to know that they are finally allowed to head to a safe port in Europe", Beau told reporters in Marseille, France.

Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull reports from Rome.



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