Why Italy has closed its ports to a migrant rescue ship

Why Italy has closed its ports to a migrant rescue ship

Malta, for its part, has consistently refused to take in migrants, citing its small size and limited capacities.

The migrants, including pregnant women and scores of children, were saved by the French charity SOS Mediterranee on Saturday.

It is also unclear whether the ship has enough fuel and supplies for the roughly 800-mile journey to Valencia.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Maltese government said that "Malta was neither the coordinating nor the competent authority" in the rescue. "The Good Lord put Malta closer than Sicily to Africa".

A doctor on the ship, Dr. David Beversluis, said there were no medical emergencies onboard but one passenger had to be revived after he was rescued. "We need to have an idea of what port to go to, something that up to now we haven't had", Aquarius crew member Alessandro Porro told news channel Sky TG24 on Sunday. "We are nonetheless prepared to take care of the rescued people until we are".

Earlier in the day, the European Commission had urged action.

"They are becoming more anxious & asking when they will be able to reach shore", SOS Mediterranée tweeted Monday.

There are no showers or sinks for migrants on the Aquarius and rescue workers use a disinfectant spray on people's hands before they eat.

Women and children sleep below deck, watched over by a midwife, while the men sleep on the open deck, covered only with tarpaulin. It added that the Aquarius "is still waiting for definitive instructions regarding the port of safety". The Aquarius flies the flag of Gibraltar.

The migrants were rescued by SOS Mediterranee's vessel Aquarius in six separate night-time operations in the central Mediterranean on Saturday.

"Italy is done with taking orders, this time there is someone saying no".

Italy's new rightwing government has closed its ports to the migrants rescued by a German vessel in Libyan waters.

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This frame of a video taken by the Italian Coast Guard on January 6, 2018, in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, shows migrants being rescued from dinghies as they try to cross to Italy.

Spain answered the call, opening the port of Valencia to the vessel, Lucia Benavides reports for NPR from Barcelona.

"The island can't continue to turn the other way", the ministers said.

"States and actors involved should rapidly find solutions to allow migrants and refugees on board to disembark safely and quickly", it said in a tweet.

The Aquarius on Monday was more than 750 nautical miles from Valencia and said it had received no instructions yet to head to Spain.

It suggested that the hundreds on board "are running out of provisions".

Matteo Salvini, Italy's Interior Minister and Northern League party leader made a decision to refuse docking to "Aquarius" and redirect the vessel to the Island of Malta, apparently in line with his election promises.

"If anyone thinks I won't move a muscle while we have another summer of landings, landings and more landings, well that's not what I'm going to do", Salvini told reporters.

The mayors of Naples and Reggio Calabria - two coastal cities in mainland Italy - also said they would allow the ship to dock.

"Naples is ready, without funds, to save lives", he said.

After Spain announced it would accept the boat, Salvini declared "VICTORY" via Facebook, while Labour Minister Luigi Di Maio - who along with Salvini also serves as Italy's join deputy prime minister - called it a "turning point" that proved Italy is "no longer alone".

Italy's refusal to take in the migrants is the first sign of the new government's hardened stance on immigration.

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