Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Italy rescues migrants, asks other countries to host them

Italy rescues migrants, asks other countries to host them

Another 450 migrants on board two military vessels were stranded at sea on Saturday as Italy and Malta locked horns over whose responsibility it was to offer them safe harbour.

Matteo Salvini, the hardline interior minister, called the alleged aggressors "pirates" and "criminals" and said he wanted them led off the ship in handcuffs.

"Malta, smugglers and kind people in Italy and around the world must know that this ship cannot go to the Italian ports", - said Salvini.

Italy's transport minister said Malta must let the ship dock.

He also argues that European countries should find a way to block the migrants before they leave Africa or send boats with asylum seekers back to the ports where they came from, including to Libya's harbors.

Spain's new foreign minister Josep Borrell meanwhile Sunday said that the EU's prized Schengen free-movement system was "beginning to disappear" under pressure from migrants arriving in the bloc.

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While France and Malta have already agreed to take 50 each, the Czech government chief held on to his anti-migrant stance which he shares with other leaders in the region including Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

The migrants, like thousands of others, had set sail from Libya in a single wooden vessel which was identified early Friday while passing through waters under Malta's jurisdiction.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin on Friday that "if there is to be a change to the Sophia mandate then it should be discussed at the European level".

Libyan officials ruled out helping Rome on the matter.

The source said Conte would write to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk and other European heads of state to urge them to apply the European principles on migrants that were restated at a summit in June.

"I'm interior minister and I will do my utmost to defend the security of Italians, what I am doing is blocking departures, landings and deaths".

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"We didn't attack anyone, there was 5-10 minutes of great confusion and fear, but we didn't want to hurt anyone", they told Italo-Egyptian UNICEF/Intersos officer Sahar Ibrahim on board the coast guard ship that took them on, the Diciotti. There was no further information on the migrants or how they got stranded. Salvini is pressing the European Union to step up and take in the migrants who land in Italy and trying to helping Libya to prevent them from leaving.

The tug alerted Italian authorities to the threats, and the migrants were transferred to the coast guard ship Diciotti, which remained off the coast of Trapani on Thursday.

The 67 were eventually allowed to disembark late on Thursday evening after and intervention by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

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

Eight women and children were taken to Lampedusa for medical treatment.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said a Sudanese and a Ghanaian among the migrants allegedly tried to hijack the tug so it wouldn't return them to Libya, where migrants have been tortured in crowded detention centers.

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