Italy, Malta standoff leaves migrant rescue boat stuck at sea

Migrants wait to disembark from Aquarius in the Sicilian harbour of Catania, Italy, May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

MEDITERRANEAN SEA-  Hundreds of people on board the migrant rescue boat have been left stranded on the Mediterranean sea between Italy and Malta, as the two countries standoff on who should taken in the migrants, as they both refuse to allow the vessel boat to dock.

The rescue boat has about 629 people, including a pregnant woman and several children, who were saved by SOS Mediterranee on Saturday and are stuck aboard the French NGO’s ship Aquarius that is currently between Malta and Sicily waiting for a secure port.

Malta repeated their refusal to accept the ship as Italy has repeatedly done so too.

Italy’s who seen as right wing and hard-line in his views, interior minister Matteo Salvini said in a joint statement with Danilo Toninelli minister in charge of the Italian coastguard said Malta, “cannot continue to look the other way when it comes to respecting precise international conventions on the protection of human life”.

“That’s why we ask the government in Valletta to take in the Aquarius in order to offer first aid to the migrants on board.”

Malta’s government replied and said that their Prime Minister , Joseph Muscat had spoken to Italian premier Giuseppe Conte and underlined “that Malta is acting in full conformity with its international obligations”.

“As such Malta will not take the said vessel in its ports.”

Aquarius crew member Alessandro Porro told news channel Sky TG24 earlier that the ship was north of Malta and that they had “received no communications from the Maltese authorities”.

“The people we saved yesterday were in a difficult condition, at least 50 were at risk of drowning. We need to have an idea of what port to go to, something that up to now we haven’t had.”

Photo Credit- REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

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