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Italy transfers migrants to ships but refuses them entry

Italy transfers migrants to ships but refuses them entry

"Malta, smugglers and kind people in Italy and around the world must know that this ship cannot go to the Italian ports", - said Salvini.

Italy's new populist government, which came to power on June 1, has upended years of migrant policy by banning rescue ships run by migration charities from docking in Italian ports, accusing them of aiding human traffickers.

Since taking office last month, Salvini has led a high-profile campaign to shut humanitarian rescue ships out of Italy's ports, which means there are now no charity ships to help out with rescues.

Then, early Saturday, the migrants were taken off the boat and transferred onto a rescue vessel from the European Union border patrol agency Frontex and a ship from the Italian border police.

Malta said it had fulfilled its obligations by monitoring the vessel to see if it needed help. At 10:00pm Friday the vessel was a few miles off Lampedusa and Linosa, then the fishermen in the area saw the ship change course and head towards the coast of Sicily.

However, the Maltese government claimed that it had "satisfied all obligations under the applicable worldwide conventions on coordination of Search and Rescue events".

U.S. President Donald Trump said during a press conference in Brussels on Thursday after a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting that "immigration is taking over Europe", adding that the new Italian government came to power because of its "strong immigration policies".

Despite the controversy over who would take the migrants, Conte authorised the disembarkation of all 43 women and 14 children on board.

More than 650,000 migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, have been put out to sea on overcrowded boats by people smugglers since 2014.

Image A policeman checks a migrant during a disembarkment from the Italian Coast Guard vessel
Italy transfers migrants to ships but refuses them entry

The migrants were rescued from a boat by two vessels of the EU's Frontex mission, but Italy was unwilling to allow them to land at its ports.

The migrants had been aboard a large fishing boat when the Italian and Maltese coast guard control centers began squabbling on Friday over who was responsible for taking them in. They were taken to Lampedusa.

After inconclusive elections in March, Mattarella rejected Salvini's request to be named prime minister and this week he refused to defend the League after a court ordered that its funds be sequestered over a corruption case.

Italy's Conte insisted the "solidarity" strategy was working, citing the offers from France, Malta and Germany.

Initially picked up by a supply vessel the Vos Thalassa over the weekend, the migrants were subsequently transferred to a coast guard ship after staff made emergency calls to authorities in Rome.

The large boats are particularly unsafe because they have often capsized in the past, trapping hundreds of people below deck as they sink. More migrants could die at sea or be trapped indefinitely in inhumane detention centres, they said.

The International Organization for Migration's Italy spokesman, Flavio Di Giocomo, tweeted the news Monday while the migrants were being identified, processed and interviewed in the Sicilian port town of Pozzallo.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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