Italy has refused to allow into its ports a ship conveying rescued migrants and wants Malta to rather accept the migrants.
The ship is carrying 629 migrants who are now stranded in the Mediterranean after Italy’s new interior minister ordered that the vessel doesn’t dock at the port.
Matteo Salvini has promised to be tough on immigration.
Malta has also refused to take in the migrants saying they were picked in Libyan waters, a territory that is under Italy’s jurisdiction.
The German group, SOS Méditerranée has said that the ship has been instructed by the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to stand by in its current position.
Where is the ship?
The ship is currently stranded at sea at 35 nautical miles from Italy and 27 nautical miles from Malta.
“Our objective is the disembarkation in a port of safety of the 629 people now on board the Aquarius – some we rescued yesterday night in difficult conditions,” the group’s spokesperson Mathilde Auvillain told Reuters news agency.
Ongoing resolution efforts
The UN refugee agency in Italy is now asking “states and actors involved” to “rapidly find solutions to allow migrants and refugees on board the Aquarius to disembark safely and quickly”.
The migrants were picked up in six different rescue operations off Libya’s coast, where many African migrant prefer to use in crossing into Europe.