In a sign that it will meet its promise to crack down on immigration, Italy’s new government has prevented a rescue boat in the Mediterranean from docking, leaving over 600 migrants in limbo.
The Aquarius, operated by SOS Méditerranée and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is carrying 629 people including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women, having carried out six rescue operations over the night of June 10.
Salvini, who leads the nationalist and eurosceptic Lega Nord, wrote that while rescue ships in the Mediterranean come from many countries, all of those countries prevent refugees and migrants from entering.
Da oggi anche l’Italia comincia a dire NO al traffico di esseri umani, NO al business dell’immigrazione clandestina. Il mio obiettivo è garantire una vita serena a questi ragazzi in Africa e ai nostri figli in Italia.
On June 1, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project coordinator on board the Aquarius Aloys Vimard, told WikiTribune the EU’s deterrence policies were driving migrants and refugees to take greater risks to make the crossing.
“A reduction in the number of people leaving Libyan shores or getting to Europe does not mean a reduction of suffering,” said Vimard. “The suffering is just out of sight.”
Vimard said MSF had seen some people attempt the crossing six times, and while deterrence was reducing the overall number of people crossing, it was contributing to an increased death rate.
The Aquarius was attempting to dock in Palermo, Sicily. The city’s mayor – and other mayors in Naples, Messina and Reggio Calabria – said they were prepared to disobey Italian authorities and allow the boat to dock in their seaports.