NGO ship with migrants barred from docking in Italy

An Italian humanitarian group whose boat has been barred from docking in Lampedusa said it is waiting for the about 40 migrants still onboard to be transferred to Malta on military patrols

Mediterranea Saving Humans said Friday in a tweet that its sailing boat ALEX was just outside Italian territorial waters, just off the southernmost island of Lampedusa, and that it has been banned from entering Italian jurisdiction by ministerial decree.

However, due to their fragile health, 13 migrants were taken off disembarked by an Italian coast guard boat and taken to Lampedusa. Three pregnant women were given ultrasounds before being allowed off the boat. Four children and one unaccompanied minor were part of the group allowed to disembark.

Given the condition of those on board, the NGO had requested that the migrants, rescued from a rubber dinghy Thursday off Libya, be transferred to Italian or Maltese patrol boats. It said in light of the condition of the migrants that it couldn't make the trip to the Mediterranean island of Malta itself.

The NGO said the ministerial decree is illegitimate because it can't be applied to a ship carrying people rescued at sea, and because Italy can't ban an Italian-flagged ship from entering its waters.

Meanwhile, German humanitarian group Sea-Eye said one of its rescue ships has picked up 65 people who were found in a large dinghy about 34 miles (55 kilometers) off Libya's coast.

Sea-Eye said on its Facebook page that the crew of the Alan Kurdi brought the African migrants on board their vessel early Friday. It added that Libyan authorities failed to respond to communication for more than three hours. It was unclear whether the Alan Kurdi will try to dock in Italy too.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said Friday that none of the rescued migrants will arrive in Italy. Referring to the Alan Kurdi ship, he said "the German NGO can choose between Tunisia and Germany."

Italy has insisted that the Libyan coast guard intervene and the migrants be taken back to Libya. NGOs say that would be against maritime law since Libya is not considered a safe harbor, as evidenced by the bombing of a migrant center this week that killed dozens.

Italy argues that the presence of the ships encourages smugglers and that Italy has been unfairly stuck with the burden of managing arrivals from northern Africa for the rest of Europe.

Salvini, speaking from the northeastern city of Trieste, said Friday that Italy is ready to use more resources to "seal the border with Slovenia and definitively stop the entrance of illegal migrants." But he stopped short of mentioning a plan to build an anti-migrant wall along the Slovenian border, previously mentioned by the League's regional governor.


Jordans reported from Berlin.