Deputy Premier and Infrastructure Minister Matteo Salvini says it was time to stop “organised trips” for migrants across the Mediterranean. Italy is in a stand-off over people saved at sea by NGO-run search-and-rescue ships.
At the weekend the Humanity 1 and Geo Barents docked in the port of Catania. However, the Italian government only allowed people it considered vulnerable to disembark.
As a result, 35 asylum seekers are still on the Humanity 1, after 144 people were allowed off. 357 remain aboard the Geo Barents after 215 were let off.
The captain of the Humanity 1 has said he will not leave Catania until everyone is allowed off the ship. Geo Barents is also still in the Sicilian port.
The NGOs running the ships have said they will mount legal challenges to the decision to only allow some of the asylum seekers off. Two other NGO-run ships are in currently in waters near to Catania. They are the Rise Above, which as 90 people on board, and the Ocean Viking, which has rescued 234.
“Organised trips” for migrants says Salvini
“These are organised trips,” Salvini, who imposed on a closed-ports policy on NGO-run ships when was interior minister between 2018 and 2019, told RTL radio.
“The people aboard those ships pay around 3,000 dollars, which gets turned into weapons and drugs for traffickers. They are organised trips that are increasingly dangerous.
“It is necessary to halt the trafficking not just of human beings, which is huge, but also of the arms and drugs linked to the trafficking of human beings”.