Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 16 November 2019

German humanitarian group enters Italian waters despite Salvini ban

Sea Watch transferred some migrant families to the island of Lampedusa

Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, speaks during a League Party campaign rally with European nationalists ahead of European Parliamentary elections, in Milan, Italy, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Salvini wants to turn into a show of strength for Europe's army of nationalist leaders trying to upend the continent's politics. Photographer: Francesca Volpi/Bloomberg
Matteo Salvini, Italy's deputy prime minister, speaks during a League Party campaign rally with European nationalists ahead of European Parliamentary elections, in Milan, Italy, on Saturday, May 18, 2019. Salvini wants to turn into a show of strength for Europe's army of nationalist leaders trying to upend the continent's politics. Photographer: Francesca Volpi/Bloomberg

The German humanitarian group Sea-Watch said its ship carrying 47 migrants entered Italian waters, despite an explicit ban by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Sea-Watch said on Saturday that it flouted the ban for humanitarian reasons, moving towards the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

On Friday, Italy transferred some migrant families with small children from the Sea-Watch 3 to Lampedusa, but it has continued to refuse landfall to others. But Sea-Watch said the others were equally in need of relief, saying many suffered from seasickness and dehydration, as well as trauma from their time in lawless Libya and on a smugglers' boat.

"After this unacceptable, discriminating separation, the medical and psychological situation on board the ship became unbearable, and the crew could no longer ensure the safety of the rescued people," Sea-Watch said.

Salvini said on Saturday that children and those with ailments were permitted to enter Italy ''but the absolute ban remains on the Sea-Watch 3 against entering our territorial waters. ''

Speaking later in Milan at a rally of right-wing populist movements, Salvini declared: "Never, as long as I am interior minister, will that ship enter an Italian port."

Forty-seven migrants rescued on Wednesday off Libya remain on board the ship, including a pregnant woman and a man with disabilities.

Sea-Watch says the 18 migrants taken to Lampedusa on Friday were mostly families, and an injured woman.

Updated: May 19, 2019 08:17 AM

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