Migrant rescue vessels suspend operations after Italian intervention

Posted June 24, 2018

On Monday, CSU's leader and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said he would wait for the outcome of Merkel's talks with European Union partners until end of June and from July 1 he will start implementing stricter measures at Germany's national borders.

In response, a Maltese government spokesperson told dpa news agency that "the operation was initially handled by the Rome rescue coordination centre, with the Libyan authority assuming responsibility of the [search-and-rescue] cases".

"The latest drownings show how important our sea rescue efforts are, and that not a single rescue ship can be missed", said Mission Lifeline founder Axel Steier.

After the talks he tweeted that Italy did not want to discuss "secondary movements" - referring to dealing with migrants already in Europe - without having addressed the "emergency" issue of the arrival of migrants on European Union soil "that Italy finds itself facing alone".

Italy's far-right interior minister on Wednesday accused Spain of failing in its commitments to receive migrants, saying it should take "the next four" rescue boats after Madrid welcomed one rejected by Rome.

The crew of the ship had spotted the migrants early Thursday morning. "Human lives must be saved, but it must be done legally and safely".

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The Dutch-flagged ship run by the German charity Mission Lifeline was seeking a nearby European dock, a day after anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the vessel should take the migrants to the Netherlands. Salvini said the rescue was in Libyan waters, which Lifeline denies.

"You have intentionally not listened to Italian or Libyan authorities".

Wigand said "it is not without concern that we are following these developments and these new proposals", adding: "we should not turn our back on the values and principles on which Europe is built".

We will remind, recently Italy and Malta refused to accept the rescue vessel Aquarius of the organization SOS Méditerranée 629 with refugees on Board.

But Conte on Thursday said he had received a call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was "worried" that Italy may not attend.

"We see a strong need to significantly reduce secondary movements.by preventing unlawful crossing of internal borders between Member States by irregular migrants and asylum seekers and by ensuring swift readmissions by the competent Member State", said a draft of the statement for Sunday's meeting.

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"They are in bad conditions, not only medical conditions but (also) psychological conditions, and they really need urgent medical care and psychological care", UNHCR spokesman Marco Rotunno told Reuters.

"The immigration emergency continues in Italy, partly because France keeps pushing back people at the border", Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio shot back on his Facebook page, warning Macron risked turning France into "Italy's number one enemy" on the issue. "Welcome thousands of migrants and then we can talk", he said.

Some 640,000 migrants have landed in Italy since 2014.

Data from the German interior ministry does indicate that the proportion of crimes committed by foreigners has gone up in the past five years, but this can not be attributed specifically to migrant arrivals.

Europe is no longer caught in the crux of a large Mediterranean migrant influx, as in 2015, he said.

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