The Italian NGO Mediterranea‘s Alex migrant rescue vessel carrying 54 people picked up in Libya waters on July 4 has been stopped off Lampedusa according to a landing ban issued by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, ANSA news agency sources said on July 5.
“The vessel of the NGO, which by this time would have arrived in Malta that had given the availability of a safe harbor, breaks the law, ignores the prohibitions and enters Italian waters” Salvini wrote in his Twitter micro blog.
Salvini said the NGO vessel should navigate to Malta or elsewhere, in case it instists on entering Italian waters it would be regarded as an “act of violation“.
Malta offered a port to the ship but the Mediterranea at first said this was “unfeasible“, because of the state of the passengers exhausted by the trip.
The NGO underlined that because the physical and psychological conditions of the migrants the instructions of Interior minister were impossible to fulfill.
However, Alessandra Sciurba, spokesman of Mediterranea Saving Humans, later communicated that the vessel was ready to transport the migrants at Malta.
It was reported that a Maltese navy ship was send for the Mediterranea to receive the migrants, but the NGO said that they did not have any information about this maneuver.
The Italian navy later offered to transport the Alex‘s migrants to Malta.
The Maltese government said Italy would take 55 migrants in exchange for the 54 migrants Malta would take from the Mediterranea.
Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said it was right that the ship should go to Malta; the NGOs that used sailboats like the Mediterranea were “reckless”, he added.