Italian minister urges United Kingdom to take in 141 rescued migrants

16 August, 2018, 14:26 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Italy's Infrastructure and Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli delivers a speech during a ceremony for the 153rd anniversary of the Italian Coast Guard at the command headquarters of the Italian Coast Guard Authorities in Rome on J

"At this point, the United Kingdom should assume its responsibility to safeguard the castaways", Mr Toninelli said.

The European Commission was in touch with several EU states and is trying to help resolve the "incident" with the Aquarius, a spokesperson in Brussels said. The ship, he said, had a foreign crew and was now in Maltese waters, flying a Gibraltar flag.

Earlier, Malta's armed forces rescued 114 migrants from a rubber dinghy taking on water 53 nautical miles south of Malta and brought them back to the Mediterranean island.

The group was picked up in the Mediterranean Sea by French humanitarian workers on Friday.

Italy has refused entry to charity rescue boats since a populist government came to power in June with a vow to make its European neighbours take more migrants.

Italy continues to refuse port to humanitarian rescue ships, and the country's transport minister, Danilo Toninelli, said on Twitter that Britain should take responsibility for the migrants aboard the Aquarius because it sails under the flag of the British territory of Gibraltar.

The French presidency said yesterday that it was in touch with the other European Union nations on the Mediterranean to "rapidly" find a port where the Aquarius can dock, while stressing that global maritime law states that the boat should be able to dock in the port that is closest. Of these, 25 were found adrift on a small wooden boat that had no motor and was believed to have been at sea for about 35 hours, the group said.

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Britain must step in to save 141 migrants stranded on a charity rescue ship after Italy closed its ports to the vessel, Rome has demanded.

Malta said on Saturday it would not welcome the ship while Spain said its ports were not the safest destination for the vessel. While their medical condition is stable, for now, many are extremely weak and malnourished.

"What is of utmost importance is that the survivors are brought to a place of safety without delay, where their basic needs can be met and where they can be protected from abuse", the group quoted Nick Romaniuk, its search and rescue coordinator as saying.

The Malta government said that it has no legal obligation to offer safe harbor to the Aquarius migrants, since it didn't coordinate the rescue, which took place outside of the search and rescue area it is responsible for.

The migrants were rescued last week after their two wooden boats capsized.

"Policies created to prevent people from reaching Europe at all costs are resulting in more suffering and forcing those who are already vulnerable to take even riskier journeys to safety".

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