Doctors Without Borders President Accuses Salvini, Orban of Creating Migrant ‘Humanitarian Crisis’

Claudia Lodesani, President of Doctors Without Borders Italy (MSF), NGO running with SOS Mediterranee, the Aquarius rescue ship, looks on as she gives a press conference in Rome, on September 27, 2018. - Humanitarian groups SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders met the press to brief on the status of …

The president of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Italy, who operate the migrant rescue ship Aquarius 2, has accused Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini and Hungarian leader Viktor Orban of creating a migrant “humanitarian crisis.”

MSF Italy head Claudia Lodesani slammed the populist pair, saying: “Migrants are used as a hostage for political issues and the responsibility lies with all European governments, both Salvini, Macron and Orban,” Il Giornale reports.

“They are creating a humanitarian crisis on the edge of Europe and nobody wants to manage this crisis,” she claimed.

The comments come after Salvini, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, once again denied the NGO access to Italian ports after they picked up 58 migrants off the Libyan coast. The ship sought docking in France but was denied and told to go to Malta instead.

The ship has experienced a number of other difficulties including losing its right to fly the Gibraltar flag last month after the Gibraltar Maritime Administration (GMA) revealed the NGO was not supposed to be engaged in search and rescue operations.

After renaming the Aquarius to Aquarius 2 and changing their flag to Panama, MSF once again found their vessel stripped of its flag earlier by the Panamanian government.

MSF released a statement following the move, claiming the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA) had been “forced to revoke the registration of Aquarius, under blatant economic and political pressure from the Italian government.”

Frédéric Penard, director of operations for the Aquarius 2, urged Panama to reconsider this week at a press conference, saying: “Saving people is more important than any political consideration.”

Rumours also circulated that the Vatican may grant the use of their flag for the vessel, and though Penard claimed not to be in contact with the Holy See he said such a move would be “welcome”.

Pope Francis has been a firm advocate mass migration along with other high-profile members of the Roman Catholic Church in Italy, who have slammed Salvini’s tough stance.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)






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