Spanish aid boat blocked by Italy rescues 39 more migrants

Cheryl Sanders
August 11, 2019

Italy's far-right deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has clashed with Richard Gere over the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean, suggesting the Hollywood star should house himself those stranded on rescue ships after the U.S. actor urged the Italian government to "stop demonising asylum seekers". A nighttime rescue the following day saw a further 68 people brought on board, including two children and two pregnant women.

On August 5, the Italian government won a vote on a decree drawn up by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, which raised the maximum fine for ships that enter Italian waters without authorization to €1 million, and provided for the arrest of sea captains who ignored warnings to stay away.

"Malta has offered to transfer these 39 migrants aboard an AFM vessel and disembark them in Malta since these were rescued in an area of Malta's responsibility and coordinated by RCC Malta", the government said in a statement today.

The Spanish boat, which now has 160 migrants on board, including minors, has been stranded for nine days as both Italy and Malta have refused to let it dock, while the European Union is trying to figure out what to do with it.

'These are extraordinary people, they are so strong, they lived such horrors, they were living in a hell. torture, rapes imprisonment, ' he went on.

'We have our problems of refugees who come from Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, from Mexico.

The Open Arms ship now is in global waters near the Italian island of Lampedusa, but the crew is staying out of Italy's territorial waters despite the deteriorating conditions on board.

The Italian government needed to stop "demonising people", the actor said. It's very similar to what is going on here.

"It has to stop everywhere on the planet now", said Gere, who helped bring water and food to the migrants.

He said they 'appeared to be in OK shape, ' but warned: 'They are getting closer and closer to breaking point'.

The blockage is led by Italy's firebrand interior minister Matteo Salvini, who this week plunged his country into political crisis in an apparent power play largely buoyed by popularity gained for his hardline stance against migrant arrivals.

The Ocean Viking rescued 85 people including four children on Friday, so the latest group means a total of around 170 are now on board, all from sub-Saharan Africa.

'Italy is not legally bound, nor disposed to take in clandestine, unidentified migrants from on board the Ocean Viking, ' Salvini said.

On Friday, a European Commission spokesperson said that the EU was not mediating any negotiations to resolve the current standoff. The fate of the migrants has been in limbo since Italy and Malta rejected requests to disembark them.

Other reports by iNewsToday