Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has warned yet another migrant rescue ship it will not be able to dock in Italian ports and accused it of violating international laws.
During a Facebook live from his office, Salvini claimed a Dutch-flagged ship operated by the German nongovernmental organization Lifeline “forcefully boarded 224 illegal migrants in Libyan waters” despite warnings by the Italian Coast Guard that Libyan authorities were in charge of the rescue.
“You did a show of strength by contravening the indications of the Italian and Libyan coastguard. Now, you’ll carry this human load to the Netherlands,” Salvini said.
“I want to save lives but I’m paid by Italians to defend the safety of Italian citizens. I don’t accept there are organizations of pseudo-volunteers that endanger the lives of those who flee Africa and then think to disembark them all in Italy.”
Salvini added that the Italian population want to “stop the mafia of illegal immigration.”
“These foreign NGOs, with foreign staff, foreign funding and flying foreign flags will no longer touch Italian soil,” he added.
Lifeline tweeted this morning that it was rescuing 300-400 people. “Reinforcement by the Italian Coast Guard or merchant ships is required. Further information follows,” the NGO tweeted.
Salvini warned on Saturday that ships carrying migrants as part of a humanitarian mission won’t be allowed to dock in Italy, even as crowds rallied in Rome in solidarity with migrants.
The anti-immigration minister was instrumental in blocking the Aquarius, a ship carrying hundreds of rescue migrants, from docking last week in Italy.
The ship arrived in Spain on Sunday along with two Italian ships, which were sent to ease the overcrowding on the Aquarius.