hardline anti-migration Interior minister has warned that no humanitarian
vessels carrying migrants will be allowed to harbour at Italian ports, the Sun
Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant party the League, wrote in a Facebook post: “Two other ships with the flag of Netherlands, Lifeline and Seefuchs, have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers’’
“These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports [not Italian] where to go’’.
Previous week, he sparked international outcry when he refused entry to the Aquarius - a humanitarian ship operated by a consortium of international NGOs - that rescued drowning migrants in rubber dinghies in the Libyan coast. The Ship, which has onboard more than 600 people, is expected to dock in the Spanish city of Valencia on Sunday, seven days after Italy and Malta sent it away.
The port closures by the two countries have triggered aid agencies to issue warning of a deadly summer at sea for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean should frontline countries continue to block humanitarian ships.
Salvini is riding on the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiments gaining grounds in Italy to bolster his political credentials. The Guardian described him as a ‘strong man’ who is unofficially assuming the role of prime minister and setting the country’s agenda. The rise of Salvini from a fringe candidate to a center-stage politician could have far reaching implications for not only the future of Italy but its role in Europe.