Italy, Malta, Spain, and Gibraltar have slammed Europe’s doors to the rescue boat Aquarius, carrying 141 migrants rescued at sea.
Italy’s Interior Minister and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said on Monday that the NGO ship will not be allowed to dock in Italy. “It can go where it wants, (but) not to Italy! Stop human being traffickers and accomplices, #portsclosed and #openhearts,” Salvini Twitted.
The Aquarius was first denied docking in June, when it was forced to dock in Spain with 630 migrants. Spain has also welcomed the rescue boat Open Arms.
The NGOs Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée have been seeking a safe port for migrants that were rescued on Sunday in international waters, between Italy and Malta. Of the 141 Libyans rescued, 67 are unaccompanied minors.
However, this time Madrid is unwilling to open its ports, with the prime ministers’ office noting that Spain is not the nearest and, therefore, the safest port according to international law. Spain continues to unconditionally accept migrants rescued at sea near its territorial waters.
MSF, SOS Méditerranée, Human rights Watch, and Amnesty International are calling for a clear and transparent European disembarkation system. Many charity ships have stopped patrolling the region.
Italy has called on Britain to welcome the Aquarius because it is registered in Gibraltar, but authorities on the rock say the migrants should go to an Italian port. Moreover, the Gibraltar government says that the ship can no longer fly a Gibraltar flag from August 20 and should revert back to the “underlying owners’ flag,” which is Germany.
The European Commission is trying to address the crisis, trying to find a government willing to host the migrants.
Malta has already rejected any suggestion the Aquarius can dock on its shores. Maltese authorities did rescue 114 migrants in its own territorial waters on Monday.