Salvini Blocks Own Coastguard from Landing Migrants in Italy

Italy's Diciotti coastguard boat, pictured in July, has docked in Sicily for technical reasons with about 170 migrants on board

Populist Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has declared that migrants recently picked by the Italian coastguard can only land once the European Union agrees to relocate them.

The migrants were initially rescued by an Italian fishing boat named the Accursio Giarratano, but the sailors were refused access to a port on the island of Malta and were forced to wait 24 hours until the coastguard transferred the migrants to their vessel the Bruno Gregoretti, Il Giornale reports.

So far only five of the asylum seekers aboard the Bruno Gregoretti have left the vessel after it docked at the Italian island of Lampedusa earlier this week, with authorities stating health concerns as the reason for the migrants being allowed on Italian soil.

Before the ship even docked at the port, the Italian government sent a message to the European Commission asking it to co-ordinate the relocation of the migrants on board. So far Brussels has made contact with member-states but none have agreed to take in the migrants.

I have already given indications that a port is not to be assigned before there is the redistribution of all 140 onboard all over Europe on paper,” Salvini said.

Salvini’s demands come after several European Union member-states met in Paris earlier in the week to discuss the issue of migrant redistribution, with French president Emmanuel Macron claiming that 14 member-states had agreed to a deal but did not give any details.

Macron later criticised Salvini for not attending the Paris meeting but was met with anger from the Italian populist, who said, “Who are you? We’re not your employees or your waiters. We went to the official meeting in Helsinki where all of us ministers were there.”

“Italy will not be your refugee camp … There is the port of Marseille [in France], don’t come and put pressure on us. If you expect us to sign a document where ships arrive in Italy, you are wrong. Italians are no longer going to be anyone’s slaves,” Salvini vowed.

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


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