Interior Minister Salvini lets these migrants dock but denies entry to a new humanitarian rescue case.
Germany, France, Portugal, Luxembourg and Ireland agreed to take 116 African migrants who were rescued at sea by the Italian coastguard boat “Gregoretti” but denied permission to go ashore by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
After being disembarked at the Augusta port in Sicily, they will be transferred to those countries. An additional group of 19 rescued migrants, who are being supported by the Catholic Church, will be received in Italy.
Minister Salvini, who has staked his political career on a drive to halt migrant flows, established a “Closed Ports” policy to humanitarian rescue ships.
In the past year, this measure has become a strategy used by the far-right politician to force the European Union countries to house migrants who have been rescued at the Mediterranean Sea.
The decision taken regarding the Gregoretti vessel, however, does not change the policies of the Italian interior minister at all as he confirmed that “we don't open anything, the ports remain closed. We are not Europe’s refugee camp,” as reported by local media Agi.
"In the next few minutes I will sign a ban on entry and transit in Italian territorial waters for the Alan Kurdi vessel which has picked up 40 immigrants from Libya. It is a German NGO so it knows where it can go but not to Italy. Period," Salvini said Wednesday.
Among those rescued by this ship owned by Sea-Eye organization are a pregnant woman, a baby, and two young children. They are part of a group of migrants who come from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, Congo and Cameroon.
"If the NGO really cares about the health of immigrants, it can establish a course for Tunisia," Salvini told Sea-Eye and warned that its vessel will run into the "wrong" minister if they think about coming to Italy “as if nothing would have happened."
On Wednesday, the Italian far-right politician also tweeted that his new security law (Decreto Sicurezza) will have tougher penalties for those who "disobey law enforcement," a warning tacitly issued against Sea-Eye, Sea Watch and other humanitarian NGOs involved in migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean, all of which are usually considered by Salvini as "smugglers and traffickers of human beings."