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Today, the Aquarius, boat of the French NGO “SOS Mediterranean”, cannot find refuge for the 629 migrants it has saved in the Mediterranean Sea during six separate operations. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat exchanged about the fate of this boat, on which stay 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 small children, and 7 pregnant women. Although Giuseppe Conte claimed that Malta « cannot continue to look elsewhere when it comes to respecting specific international conventions on the protection of human life « , Malta confirmed its refusal to receive these migrants, as requested by Italy.

The main reason for this refusal is that the rescues had taken place in the Libyan search and rescue area, therefore, depended on the Rome relief coordination center. The ship was in the night of Sunday to Monday between Malta and Sicily and waited to be able to disembark the migrants in a port.

If the head of the Italian government Giuseppe Conte announced that Italy had sent two patrol boats with doctors on board, he also defined a clear position. « Malta does not receive anyone, France forces people back to the border, Spain defends its borders with weapons, and from today Italy will also start saying no to human trafficking, no illegal immigration ».

The Prime Minister’s position is not unanimous. The mayor of Naples Luigi De Magistris reacted by claiming that migrants would be welcome on the port of his city, which do not depend on the authority of the Minister of the Interior. « If a minister without a heart leaves pregnant women, children, the elderly, human beings die at sea, the port of Naples is ready to welcome them, we are human, with a great heart, Naples is ready, without money, to save lives « , he declares.

While it is important to recognize the potential diplomatic crisis between the two countries, it is even more important to address the plight of these migrants.

Ludivine Plenchette

For further information:

https://fr.metrotime.be/2018/06/11/actualite/litalie-malte-ferment-port-bateau-secouru-migrants/

https://www.lecho.be/economie-politique/europe/general/un-bateau-de-600-migrants-refuse-par-l-italie-et-malte/10020646.html

https://www.leprogres.fr/france-monde/2018/06/10/salvini-interdit-a-un-bateau-humanitaire-de-debarquer-des-migrants-en-italie

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