Alan Kurdi heads to Malta with 13 people on board

Tunisian migrants stand on the deck of the German NGO Sea-Eye migrant rescue ship 'Alan Kurdi' in international waters off the Italian island of Lampedusa in the central Mediterranean Sea, September 1, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

The German NGO vessel Alan Kurdi is heading to Malta after it was denied entry into Italian territorial waters.

The Italian news agency, ANSA, said that the Italian law enforcement agency, the Guardia di finanza, delivered a decree signed by the Italian far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini, with Elisabetta Trenta and Danilo Toninelli as co-signatories.

The German NGO vessel rescued 13 asylum seekers in the Maltese search and rescue zone.

Mission Lifeline’s search and rescue vessel, Eleanore, remains blocked outside Maltese territorial waters, after the Maltese authorities have denied the vessel a port of safety. On board the vessel are 101 people that were rescued off the Libyan coast.

The standoff between the NGO and the national authorities has entered its seventh day.

READ: 101 asylum seekers remain stranded on board Lifeline’s vessel

Germany has initiated contact with the European Commission in order to reach an ad hoc agreement among European member states. The contacts by the Commission are still ongoing. The situation on board Eleanore are deteriorating as the vessel is not equipped for a prolonged standoff.

READ: Lifeline rescues 100 asylum seekers; faced threats from Libyan Coast Guard

Italy’s Salvini issues new migrant ban as seeks to derail new coalition


FILE PHOTO: League leader Matteo Salvini speaks to the media after consultations with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Rome, Italy, August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Ciro de Luca

Italy’s outgoing interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has banned another migrant-rescue ship from docking in the country, using the issue of immigration to pile pressure on his main two political rivals as they seek to form a new government.

Salvini, who leads the League party, issued a decree banning the Alan Kurdi ship, operated by the German Sea-Eye NGO, with 13 migrants abroad, from entering Italian waters, the second time in a week that he has acted to prevent rescue ships bringing migrants ashore.

Italy’s coalition government between Salvini‘s right-wing League and 5-Star Movement broke down last month, when in a sudden move Salvini declared it dead and called for elections.

Last week, Italy’s head of state, President Sergio Mattarella, asked Giuseppe Conte to head up a coalition of 5-Star and opposition Democratic Party

Salvini, trying to drive a wedge between the 5-Star Movement and the opposition centre-left Democratic Party, said at the weekend that the new coalition would end his ban on migrant boats arriving from Africa.

Another ship, the Mare Jonio is stuck in sight of the Italian southern island of Lampedusa with 34 migrants left on board out of around 100 that were rescued on Wednesday off Libya.

Rome agreed to allow women, children and sick people on board to disembark but refused to lift its ban on the ship entering Italian waters.

The Italian charity Mediterranea Saving Humans, which operates the Mare Jonio, said on Saturday that conditions on the ship were “difficult”, with scarcity of running water and after a storm in the past hours.

Salvini said in a statement on Sunday: “If the PD wants to reopen the doors and allow the business of illegal immigration to start up again, it should tell that to Italians.”

The 5-Star Movement and the PD are holding talks on forming a government. If they don’t reach an agreement sometime this week, Mattarella is expected to dissolve parliament and set a date for new elections.

Difficulties still persist as 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio last week made a string of policy demands – including the confirmation of a decree clamping down on migrant sea rescues – setting an uncompromising tone for the negotiations.