Italy refuses to take in migrants from Aquarius ship


The Maltese Navy said all of the migrants, who were sighted during a regular patrol, were brought to Malta - the first to arrive there since late June.

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

Italy on Monday denied safe harbor to 141 people rescued by a humanitarian ship off the coast of Libya last week, setting up another standoff with European Union allies over taking in migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean. One of the smugglers' boats, a small wooden craft with 25 migrants, appears to have been at sea for almost 35 hours, the groups said.

In this photo taken Thursday, Aug. 9, 2018, migrants stand on the deck of the Open Arms boat, after being rescued off the coast of Libya in the early hours of the nigh of Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018.

The MV Aquarius had started heading north on Sunday towards Europe when Libyan coastguards called the vessel to pick up 10 migrants spotted on a small fiberglass boat.

"Malta was neither the coordinating nor the competent authority. and therefore has no legal obligation to make the arrangements to provide for a place of safety", the government said in a statement.

"The vessel [Aquarius ] is now in worldwide waters off Malta and the island of Lampedusa, awaiting the designation of a safe port in accordance with global maritime law", SOS Mediterranee chief Sophie Beau told French radio station France Info.

They also said that rescued migrants "told our teams that they encountered five different ships which did not offer them assistance before they were rescued by Aquarius".

Almost three-quarters of those rescued originate from Somalia and Eritrea. Of the 141 migrants aboard, 67 are unaccompanied minors, and more than a third are from Eritrea or Somalia, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. As soon as you enter the border, every single door closes in your face.

"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", said the group's search and rescue coordinator, Nick Romaniuk.

The vessel is reportedly now still at sea between Malta and Italy after MFS claimed both nations said they would not open their ports to the ship and those on board.

Meanwhile, Italian right wing populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini suggested on social media that France, Germany, Britain or Malta were potential destinations. Malta says it can't handle large numbers of migrants.