Almost 350 migrants are stranded on two boats in the Mediterranean, including a Danish cargo ship, as a standoff between nearby European countries deepened on Sunday.
The boats include German rescue ship, Lifeline, which picked up 234 people and 17 crew members off the coast of Libya on Thursday; and a cargo ship operated by Danish transportation company Maersk, which picked up another 113 migrants off the coast of Libya on Friday morning.
Both boats have been barred from docking at nearby Italy and Malta, as the countries urged other European nations to take in the stranded migrants.
The standoff comes weeks after Italy and Malta refused to accept another rescue ship, the Aquarius, which was carrying over 600 migrants. After two days drifting in the Mediterranean the migrants were accepted by Spain, exposing the tough new policies of Italy’s hardline interior minister and leader of the anti-immigration League party, Matteo Salvini.
‘Dear Salvini, we have no meat on board, just humans’
Salvini doesn’t appear to be backing down on his tough stance anytime soon. Last week he warned the Dutch-flagged ship operated by the German nongovernmental organization Lifeline, currently stranded in the Mediterranean with over 200 migrants on board, not to dock in Italian ports.
“You (Lifeline) did a show of strength by contravening the indications of the Italian and Libyan coast guard. Now, you’ll carry this human load to the Netherlands,” Salvini said in a Facebook live video from his office.
On Sunday, Lifeline responded to Salvini in a Twitter post, saying: “Dear @matteosalvinimi, we have no meat on board, but humans. We cordially invite you to convince yourself that it is people we have saved from drowning. Come here, you are welcome!”
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SOURCE: CNN, Tomas Etzler and Sheena McKenzie