A Spanish NGO announced on Saturday that it had rescued 59 migrants from Libya in the Mediterranean, and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini immediately warned that it was out of the question for them to dock in an Italian port.
The Spanish non-governmental organization Proactiva Open Arms said on Twitter that its ship carrying the 59 migrants was heading for “a safe harbour”, but it was impossible to know where the boat would anchor.
“Despite the obstacles, we continue to protect the lives of invisible people, and their stories of what they experienced in Libya are terrifying,” the organization said.
Italian ports closed “all summer”
Matteo Salvini, meanwhile, said on Facebook that the Proactiva Open Arms boat had reached the migrants’ boat before the Libyan coastguard inside the Libyan rescue zone.
“The nearest port is Malta, the organization and flag are Spanish: they can forget the idea of joining an Italian port,” he said.
The day before, the right-wing Italian minister had warned that Italian ports would be closed “all summer” to NGOs that rescue migrants in the Mediterranean.
For his part, Maltese Minister of the Interior Michael Farrugia challenged Matteo Salvini’s version of the facts, saying the migrants had been rescued in an area between Libya and the Italian port of Lampedusa. “Stop spreading inaccurate information by pointing to Malta for no reason,” he said on Twitter.