Populist Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has sent two patrol vessels to stop a pair of ships with migrants on board from entering Italian national waters.
Salvini ordered the two vessels to block the migrant ships, which were recently sighted near the coast of Malta, saying that he did not think the Maltese government would act to stop them, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.
“It is a matter of principle,” Salvini told television programme Porta a Porta. “Malta, as usual, will certainly not stop them and will let them pass in the direction of Italy. But this time I have arranged means to stop them,” he added.
It is likely the two migrant ships will make their way towards the island of Lampedusa where the NGO vessel Sea Watch-3 had been refused access for around 2 weeks before the captain of the ship, German national Carola Rackete, stormed the blockade on Wednesday.
It is unclear what actions the patrol boats will be able to take when they confront the two migrant ships as neither has any form of jurisdiction in international waters.
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According to Il Giornale, the reasoning for Salvini’s order could be seen as more of a symbolic act to warn migrant transport NGOs and others that Italy would not be accepting of a new surge of illegal migration in the summer months.
The move likely also comes in reaction to the situation with the Sea Watch-3 and the actions of Captain Rackete. The Sea-Watch NGO faces heavy fines and the possible confiscation of its vessel under the recently-passed security and migration decree.
While the fines could reach tens of thousands of euros, a report has claimed that alt-left extremist Antifa groups and others have already managed to raise 100,000 euros to assist the NGO.
The general Italian public, meanwhile, is very much against allowing the ship to land in Lampedusa, with a poll showing that 61 per cent of Italians do not want the Sea Watch-3 to dock.
Priest Praises Salvini on Border Policy and Defence of Christian Identity https://t.co/xc02ISLV2y
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