Rome, Nov 28 NGO rescue boats will not dock at Italy’s ports, hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini pledged after three charities announced they were resuming operations off Libya amid a spike in migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.
“Our NGO friends can go where they like, but they won’t be coming to Italy,” Salvini said on Tuesday. He closed Italian ports to rescue ships in June.
“When boats return which knowingly or unknowingly abet traffickers, they are doing them a favour,” he said.
Sea Watch, Proactiva Open Arms and Mediterranean announced on Friday that they were launching a joint rescue operation for migrants off Libya’s coast.
Supported by a reconnaissance aircraft, the fleet will carry out joint search and rescue in the central Mediterranean and document human rights violations, the charities said, accusing European Union countries of shirking their international legal obligations towards migrants.
The last migrant rescue ship operating in the Mediterranean, the Acquarius, chartered by the Doctors without Borders (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee charities, has been stuck in Marseille’s since Manama in September revoked the right to fly its flag, allegedly following a request from Italy’s far-right government.
Last week, MSF said Italy ordered the seizure of the Aquarius for allegedly dumping 24 tonnes of potentially toxic waste at its ports, passing it off as ordinary garbage. – IANS