A migrant rescue ship operated by German NGO Mission Lifeline was denied access to Italian ports. Salvini, Italy’s anti-migrant interior minister, refused Lifeline’s entry because it was highly improper of them to take 224 migrants onboard. He added that since the migrants were found in Libyan waters, Lifeline shouldn’t have stepped in because Libyan coast guard should have facilitated the rescue.
Now that the ship is in Maltese waters, Salvini appealed to Malta to open one of its ports and let hundreds of migrants rescued from rubber dinghies off Libyan coast to disembark.
Malta replied that it would “act according to the laws and applicable conventions.” International law states that Malta should respond to the ship’s request since they are the nearest safe port. As of writing the fate of migrants rescued from rubber dinghies remain uncertain.
Last Friday, Mission Lifeline stated that despite their pleas for assistance, it still has not been assigned a port.
“The latest drownings show how important our sea rescue efforts are, and that not a single rescue ship can be missed,” said Mission Lifeline founder Axel Steier. “The rescue of human lives must be prioritized before border control.”
Salvini is staying true to his election promise to relentlessly pursue rescue ships run by aid groups, which he has claimed to be similar to taxi services that accommodate migrant smugglers.
Since 2014, 640,000 migrants have entered Italy which served as an entry point to nearby countries who provided assistance. However, there came a point when these friendly neighbours enacted stricter border controls.
The continuous influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees into Europe is considered as “one of the biggest crises that the European Union has faced in a decade where there have been several crises in a row,” John Springford, the Deputy Director of the Centre for European Reform told CBS News this week.
EU being a borderless zone allows migrants who cross over the bloc’s external border to move between EU countries freely. However, this “freedom movement” has caused an unprecedented migrant crisis in the Eurozone.