Italian Mayor Prepares Own Migrant Transport ‘Fleet’

In this Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, photo, migrants sit in a rubber dinghy after Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish NGO, spotted and rescued them in the Central Mediterranean Sea at 45 miles (72 kilometers) from Al Khums, Lybia. The Spanish NGO Open Arms have rescued about 300 migrants from 3 …
AP Photo/Olmo Calvo

The mayor of Naples announced his defiance to the anti-mass migration policies of interior minister Matteo Salvini, promising to launch his own migrant transport ships.

Naples mayor Luigi De Magistris has, along with other left-wing mayors, been a major opponent to the migrant policies of Mr Salvini and continues to tell the world that Naples’ ports are open despite the nationwide ban on allowing migrant transport NGOs into Italian waters, Il Giornale reports.

Now, according to De Magistris, the mayor would like to turn his words into action and has promised to organise a “fleet” of various vessels including “sailing ships, rafts and boats” to sail directly into the sea and pick up migrants to bring them back to Naples.

“In this country truth and reality are overturned,” he said and added, “those who save lives are arrested, like Carola; those who hold people in boats hostage have no consequences.”

German national Carola Rackete, captain of the migrant transport vessel Sea Watch-3, was arrested after storming into Italian waters with dozens of migrants on board despite being told she was not allowed to dock at an Italian port. During her actions, Rackete also rammed a patrol boat.

De Magistris is not the only one expressing support for Rackete and the migrant transport NGOs. Italian priest Don Roberto Beretta from Pieve Porto Morone caused controversy earlier this week after dedicating mass to the arrested NGO captain claiming she “put God’s law before the law of men”.

Gian Marco Centinaio, a member of Salvini’s League and the current minister of agriculture, slammed Beretta saying: “Precisely because we are in a free country I allow myself to advise the priest to think a little more about his own parishioners instead of making these antics.”

Salvini has also been criticised by members of the Five Star Movement, the League’s coalition partner, over his migration policies. Defence minister Elisabetta Trenta claimed the recent events with migrant transport NGOs could have been avoided if Salvini had not backed out of the European Union’s Operation Sophia.

Operation Sophia was launched in 2015 and saw naval vessels pick up migrants in the Mediterranean and bring them to Italy. In total, around 18,390 migrants were brought to Italy under Operation Sophia.

In 2017, Libyan foreign minister Mohamad Taher Siala went as far as claiming Operation Sophia encouraged illegal migration saying: “I think this Sophia operation, it’s negative. It’s not positive. Simply because in part they encourage the migration.”

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


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