The migrant transport vessel Sea Watch-3 has been granted permission to dock at the Italian port of Catania following an agreement between European Union member states to distribute the asylum seekers on board.
Under the new agreement, Italy will only take one or two of the 47 migrants instead of all of them as the country did under the previous government, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.
The landing of the ship follows a ten-day long struggle between the NGO Sea Watch and the populist Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini who welcomed the agreement calling it “mission accomplished” and stating, “While others are chatting and denouncing, our line of firmness has led eight European countries to take charge of welcoming guests on board the Sea Watch-3.”
The incident led to a diplomatic row with the Netherlands due to the fact that the vessel had been flying under the Dutch flag and, as a result, Salvini and other members of the populist Italian government had called on the Netherlands to take the migrants on board.
The government did criticise the Dutch for not accepting the migrants saying there had been an “absolute lack of cooperation from the Dutch government despite the ship sailing with the flag of that country.”
Salvini’s Border Control Migrant Policy Reduces Arrivals by 95 Percent https://t.co/07ltiUu62i
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 29, 2019
Following his political victory, Salvini warned other migrant transport NGOs that they should watch the example of Sea Watch and that any further attempts to land in Italy with illegal migrants will be met in the same manner.
Going even further, Salvini said he was looking into the possibility of banning migrant transport NGOs not just from Italian ports, but from Italian territorial waters entirely.
According to figures released earlier this week, the migrant policy of Salvini has reduced the number of illegal migrants by a massive 95 percent in January compared to January 2018.