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Italy rescues migrants, asks other countries to host them

Italy rescues migrants, asks other countries to host them”

The ban was implemented by Italy's new right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who wants to stop migrants arriving at Italian coasts.

Mr. Salvini has insisted that Italy would not permit the migrants to disembark and that if anything, it was Malta's responsibility to receive them.

"According to the maritime law, it's Malta that must send its own ships and open its own ports", he said on Twitter.

Initially picked up by a supply vessel the Vos Thalassa over the weekend, the migrants were subsequently transferred to a coast guard ship after staff made emergency calls to authorities in Rome.

But the Maltese Interior Ministry the fishing boat was 53 nautical miles from Lampedusa, an island off Sicily, and 110 nautical miles from Malta when Rome's maritime rescue coordination center informed Maltese officials.

On Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that five European countries had agreed to take in 250 people, with Spain, Portugal, France, Germany and Malta all offering to take in 50 of the group.

And on Saturday, as those on board were transferred to two vessels belonging to the European Union border agency Frontex, he insisted they be instructed to "head south, to Libya or Malta".

Italy's populist government has launched a crackdown on migration and is seeking to renegotiate the mandate of Operation Sophia to prevent migrants rescued at sea from being brought to Italy.

Young children and women, including an injured woman, were among the migrants rescued on Sunday by the Italian tug.

Last month, the rescue vessel Aquarius, carrying 630 migrants, was blocked from landing at Italian ports.

"I will not give any permission, because here someone is lying", he told a press conference that was broadcast on Facebook.

The source, who asked not to be named, said Salvini had spoken with Conte on the telephone about how to resolve the situation.

Malta said it had fulfilled its obligations by monitoring the vessel to see if it needed help.

However, the Maltese government claimed that it had "satisfied all obligations under the applicable worldwide conventions on coordination of Search and Rescue events".

Salvini's refusal to allow the ship to dock in Italy comes after the decision Thursday to allow 67 people to disembark an Italian coastguard ship that had docked at the Sicilian port of Trapani after a row that caused friction within the country's anti-establishment coalition government.

Salvini did not say when the rest of the migrants would be allowed to disembark and when Berlin, Paris, Valletta, Madrid and Lisbon would take the 50 people each, as promised.

Migrants en route to Europe are often anxious not to be returned to Libya, where they face rape and abuse in detention centres, and NGOs have criticized calls to simply return those who are rescued at sea.



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