Richard Gere and Matteo Salvini clash over migrant crisis

Richard Gere and Matteo Salvini clash over migrant crisis”

Mr Gere, who visited the Open Arms ship in a show of support, joined a news conference on the Italian island of Lampedusa calling for the migrants to be allowed to dock.

In a video shared to Instagram by Gere's activist wife, Alejandra Silva, Gere said, "The most important thing for these people here is to a free port, be able to get off the boat and get on land and start a new life".

A new Italian law permits fines of up 1 million euros ($1.1 million) against the owners of rescue ships operated by nonprofit groups that enter Italy's waters without permission. "Their levels of anxiety are unsustainable", Open Arms founder Oscar Camps said on Twitter.

"Malta has offered to transfer these 39 migrants aboard an AFM vessel and disembark them in Malta since these were rescued in an area of Malta's responsibility and coordinated by RCC Malta", the government said in a statement today.

On Saturday, Salvini, who a year ago declared Italy's ports closed to migrant rescue ships, replied to the actor: "Given this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him".

"These are extraordinary people, they are so strong, they lived such horrors, they were living in a hell. torture, rapes imprisonment", he said.

"I am coming from a place with a very weird political situation, with a president who is putting an enormous amount of energy into dehumanising people".

"Demonizing people has to stop everywhere on the planet", Gere said.

"We have our problems with refugees coming from Honduras, Salavador, Nicaragua, Mexico". It's very similar to what is going on here.

The migrants, including 32 minors, were rescued last Thursday by the Barcelona-based charity and the ship is now floating in worldwide waters near the Italian island of Lampedusa.

In addition to delivering food and water, which they were close to running out of, Gere spoke with the stranded passengers who had fled war-torn Libya with smugglers on unseaworthy boats before being rescued by the humanitarian ship.

The Ocean Viking is registered in Norway, and Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini sent a warning to Oslo this week.

It didn't take Mr Salvini long to respond. "I am lost! I hope he gets a tan, that he feels good, but I don't think he misses anything, so, have a good trip", he said.

European parliament speaker David Sassoli wrote to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Thursday urging immediate aide for the migrants and a quick deal between the member states to take them in.

The boat has been in limbo since Malta and Italy rejected requests to disembark there.

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