Italy has summoned the French ambassador to a meeting after France condemned the new coalition government over its treatment of migrants.
Italy’s new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has led the coalition in turning away fully-laden migrant craft from the shores of Sicily – refusing entry to a boat carrying 629 people this week.
The migrants aboard the Aquarius, run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, were stuck on the overloaded ship for over 30 hours as Italy and Malta bickered over who should take them.
Stuck: SOS Mediterranee’s ship, the Aquarius carrying 630 people who were picked up by the Italian navy
French President Emmanuel Macron blasted Italy for its ‘irresponsibility’ over the decision this week
Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini (pictured) barred rescue ships from docking in the country’s ports after Malta refused to take hundreds of migrants
Spain then stepped in and offered the port of Valencia as a place for the migrants to land in Europe.
French President Emmanuel Macron blasted Italy for its ‘irresponsibility’ while Gabriel Attal, the spokesman for Macron’s party, called Italy’s actions ‘nauseating’.
Salvini hit back at France on Wednesday accusing President Macron of failing to fulfil commitments on receiving migrants, urging him to show ‘generosity’ and take in more.
U.S. Navy ship rescues 40 migrants in the Mediterranean after coming across a dinghy in distress
The U.S. Navy has confirmed that one of its ships was involved in a rescue operation in the Mediterranean.
The U.S. Sixth Fleet, which is based in Naples, Italy, said in a brief statement to The Associated Press that the USNS Trenton on Tuesday ‘rendered assistance to mariners in distress that it encountered while conducting routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea.’
The U.S. Sixth Fleet, which is based in Naples, Italy, said that the USNS Trenton on Tuesday ‘rendered assistance to mariners in distress’
The incident was first reported by German migrant aid group Sea-Watch, which said 41 people were rescued and 12 bodies recovered during the operation
It said 40 people were rescued and are being given food, water and medical care on board the ship.
The Navy statement didn’t say where the survivors would be taken but that ‘U.S. authorities are coordinating with our international partners to determine their ultimate disposition.’
The incident was first reported by German migrant aid group Sea-Watch, which said 41 people were rescued and 12 bodies recovered during the operation.
In a speech to the Senate, Salvini responded by saying that France had only taken in 640 of the 9,816 migrants it had promised to take from Italy.
He demanded that France move from ‘words to action and offer a sign of generosity’ by taking more in.
He also said that in the five months to the end of May this year France had sent back to Italy 10,249 migrants who had crossed their common border.
Salvini said he hoped ‘for an official apology as soon as possible’ from France.
‘Our history of solidarity, humanity and welcoming spirit does not deserve to be criticised by members of the French government.’
Salvini, leader of the nationalist League and an ally of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, was speaking to senators shortly after the Italian foreign ministry summoned the French ambassador to Rome, Christian Masset, to discuss the row.
Adrift: The Aquarius was left ‘on standby’ between the Italian island of Sicily and Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, before being allowed to dock in Valencia, Spain, but has yet to begin the journey
Heading over: Charity workers appear to show a map to some of the 629 migrants on the Aquarius, which still has not begun its journey towards Valencia in Spain where it has been offered a safe port
Macron’s office said Tuesday that France doesn’t want to ‘start a precedent’ that would allow some European countries to breach international laws and rely on other EU member states to take in migrants.
‘Italy cannot accept hypocritical lessons about migration from countries that have always preferred to look away,’ said a statement from the office of Premier Giuseppe Conte.
The foreign ministry said in a statement that it had convened the French ambassador for consultations over the French comments a day earlier.