The Italian Interior Ministry has confirmed 50 of the migrants who were on board the Italian coastguard vessel Diciotti, who were initially prevented from coming into Italy, have vanished from their reception centres.
Their disappearance was announced earlier this week by populist Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini who attempted to stop them coming ashore while negotiating with other European Union countries to also take some of the migrants and share the burden with Italy, Die Welt reports.
On Twitter, Salvini said: “So much need for shelter, a roof over their heads and a blanket that they decided to leave and disappear. This is the umpteenth confirmation that those arriving in Italy are not skeletons fleeing war and starvation.”
The asylum seekers, most of whom came from Eritrea, were forced to stay aboard the Diciotti for ten days until they were eventually allowed to seek asylum in Italy.
The row has sparked conflict between Salvini along with his coalition partner, leader of the Five Star Movement Luigi di Maio, and the European Union who failed to come to an agreement on sharing the migrants across willing member states.
‘I’m Not Backing Down’: Italy’s Salvini Stands Firm Over Migrant Boat Arrivals https://t.co/TO2ZYQVDlH
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 24, 2018
Following the failed negotiations, di Maio, back up by Salvini, threatened to stop Italian funds to the political bloc which amounts to billions of euros.
In response, European Commissioner responsible for the budget Günther Oettinger slammed the Italians saying: “All EU states have assumed the obligation to pay contributions on time. Anything else would be a violation of the treaties that would result in penalties.”
Earlier this week, Mr Oettinger doubled down, accusing the Italians, along with the Poles and Hungarians, of trying to weaken or even destroy the European Union.
Salvini has also seen pushback from within Italy as prosecutors announced they would be investigating him on several charges including abuse of office, kidnapping, and unlawful arrest.