Italy threatens to drop France summit over migration criticism

Italy threatens to drop France summit over migration criticism

Italy threatens to drop France summit over migration criticism

The rescue ship's crew pulled 229 migrants from the water or from traffickers' unseaworthy boats on Saturday night, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women.

"People are still fleeing Libya while the Aquarius is away from the search and rescue area in the Central Mediterranean, where rescue capacities are already totally insufficient", SOS Mediterranée vice presidentSophie Beau said in a statement.

"Do we want Nice to become the next Lampedusa?" he said, referring to the Italian island which has become a popular landing point for migrants.

Spain unexpectedly offered on Monday to take in the migrants, who were picked up off the Libyan coast over the weekend, but the Aquarius had still not moved more than 16 hours later as the authorities finalize logistics of the trip.

Matteo Salvini, Italy's new interior minister and head of the far-right League, has said his move this week is aimed at forcing other European states to help bear the strain.

"Malta takes in nobody", he added. "From today, Italy will also start to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration", he wrote on Facebook. "I am happy to have given a small, first response".

Limiting the ability of nongovernmental groups to rescue people in distress at sea and take them in a place of safety could contribute to more deaths at sea, strip Italy of the moral standing it has acquired over the last several years for its leadership in rescue at sea, and undermine the valiant work of volunteers from nongovernmental groups and Italian Coast Guard and Navy personnel who have saved tens of thousands of lives at sea.

Fresh provisions - including 950 bottles of water, 800 boxes of noodles and snacks, blankets, hats and socks - were delivered to the Aquarius on Tuesday, the charity said.

In addition, Valencia is nearly three days' voyage for the Aquarius, raising the prospect of the ship running out of food and water.

The emergency was prompting vastly different reactions in European capitals.

The ship San Giusto then assisted the Aquarius teams in a final transfer of 119 shipwrecked people from Italian merchant ship MV Jolly Vanadio to the Aquarius.

Macron's spokesperson, Benjamin Grivaux said France doesn't want to "start a precedent" that would allow some European countries to breach global laws and rely on other EU member states.

Spain has offered to take them in, which Macron praised during the cabinet meeting.

"People are in distress, are running out of provisions and need help quickly", the United Nations refugee agency said, urging governments to set aside political considerations. "The better option would be to disembark the rescued people in the nearest port after which they can be transferred to Spain or other safe countries for further care & legal processing".

Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said his country had "asked for a gesture of solidarity from Europe and this gesture has been made". Viktor Orban said his initial reaction to the news was a sigh of "Finally!" The Red Cross was preparing shelter and medical assistance to meet immediate needs on their arrival. MSF, SOS MEDITERRANEE and the captain of the Aquarius are waiting for the IMRCC action plan and will then assess whether it is safe and acceptable to proceed.

Vimard, the MSF project coordinator on board the Aquarius, said that he is "extremely concerned" about how hard it is to perform lifesaving rescue missions at sea.

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