Migrants in stand-off threaten mutiny in the Med: The 629 refugees on turned away ship are becoming increasingly desperate after three days at sea
- Italy and Malta have both refused to let the rescue vessel dock in their ports
- Rescuers initially shielded migrants from the knowledge they were stranded
- Faced with a barrage of questions, they last night told them why they had been stuck at sea since Saturday night
The fate of 629 migrants on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean was in the balance last night amid fears of mutiny.
Italy and Malta have both refused to let the vessel dock and charity workers said the passengers were becoming ‘increasingly anxious and desperate’.
The rescuers had initially shielded the migrants from the knowledge that they were stranded in international waters. But, faced with a barrage of questions, they last night told them why they had been stuck at sea since Saturday night.
Pictures showed humanitarian workers desperately trying to calm tensions on board the Aquarius as food supplies dwindled.
The situation threatens to spark a fresh EU migration crisis – with Italy vowing to turn away boats carrying migrants from Africa.
Despite international condemnation, Matteo Salvini, who is Italy’s new deputy PM and interior minister, said his country’s ports would remain closed.
Mr Salvini, who has promised to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants, said: ‘Saving lives is a duty, but transforming Italy into an enormous refugee camp isn’t.’
Calling for Brussels to resolve the issue, he said: ‘Italy has stopped bowing its head and obeying. This time we say no.
‘We are contacting the European Commission so that it can fulfil its duties toward Italy that have never been respected.’
Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said: ‘This is an important turning point. Starting today, Italy is no longer alone.’
The strategy will fuel concerns about what will happen to the thousands of migrants expected to make the perilous journey from African shores to Italy this summer.
The migrants left floating on Aquarius had been picked up during six different rescue operations off Libya’s coast in nine chaotic hours on Saturday and Sunday.
The crowded humanitarian vessel, which has a capacity of 550, became a refuge for 629 people – including 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 young children and seven pregnant women.
Some had severe burns caused by the mix of petrol and seawater that often sloshes around the bottom of the rubber boats in which the migrants were packed.
AFRICA HAS PLENTY OF SAFE LANDS SO NO AFRICAN SHOULD EVER GET ASYLUM IN EUROPE THEY ARE PURELY ECONOMIC MIGRANTS. i WOULD USE GUN SHIPS. How many more are we going to let in until europe looks like africa and our welfare state and nhs is destroyed? We can’t blame the migrants it is the traitors like Merkel and Blair and all the open door communists who should be hanging. If I was poor I would try to get to Europe but this is not a right. You dont have right to live anywhere just becasue your country has no welfare or provide free housing and rents paid and a free NHS. If Africans had less children then there would be plenty of jobs. They are bone lazy when the English where in Africa we dug sewage systems and wells. What has an africunt ever done? Have they ever invented anything or composed a piece of music the only music they make is rap crap or drill videos threatening to kill a rival drug gang. They are still in the jungle.
We have the power never use any business that employees these african economic migrants.
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