Migrant rescue ship idling between Italy, Malta as both countries refuse entry

Humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee said there were 123 minors on board the Aquarius ship

Humanitarian group SOS Mediterranee said there were 123 minors on board the Aquarius ship

"As such Malta will not take the said vessel in its ports", their statement continued.

The Aquarius carrying would be immigrants arrives in the port of Catania, on the island of Sicily on March 21, 2017 after a rescue operation in the Mediterranean sea, where some 946 would be immigrants were rescued.

Among those saved and brought on board the Aquarius are 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 younger children and seven pregnant women, the SOS Mediterranee said.

Malta has ignored calls from Italy's hardline interior minister to not "look the other way".

Given that Italy's decision to close their ports was the first strong-man move from anti-immigration Home Affairs Minister and Leader of the League (LEGA), one of the two parties of the ruling coalition, and the murky waters surrounding worldwide obligations, it would appear that the stalemate may continue. "People are in distress, are running out of provisions and need help quickly". "Italy is done bowing its head and obeying".

Migrants are rescued by staff members of the MV Aquarius, a search and rescue ship run in partnership between SOS Mediterranee and Medecins Sans Frontieres in the central Mediterranean Sea, June 10, 2018. Picture taken June 9, 2018.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the Maltese government said that "Malta was neither the coordinating nor the competent authority" in the rescue.

"It's common sense. We ask that all of Europe assume responsibility for such a delicate and important issue as is immigration", he said in a TV interview.

"Naples is ready, without funds, to save lives", he said.

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The European Commission urged action.

He said: "We have doctors on board who are taking care of them but it's not definitive care so they do need to be disembarked as soon as possible so they can get the best treatment that they can".

I took a call from Italy PM Giuseppe Conte to discuss Acquarius issue.

"We are concerned at Italy authorities' directions given to Aquarius on high seas".

Muscat said he told Conte "that Malta is acting in full conformity with its worldwide obligations".

Some 400 of the migrants were rescued by the Italian Navy, the Italian coastguard and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius.

Salvini's comments came after another spat with Malta following its reported refusal to come to the aid of another rescue ship Seefuchs, which was stranded with 126 migrants on board due to violent seas until it was allowed to dock in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Saturday.

Salvini pointed to Malta's unwillingness in accusing Europe as a whole of leaving Italy on its own to deal with the refugee crisis.

Sea-Watch said police also questioned some of the rescued migrants who, after being processed by the authorities, are likely to end up in reception centres. While he agreed that there should be a more fair distribution of migrants in the European Union, he said Salvini was "making a point at the cost of people in distress".

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