Malta refuses to accept vessel carrying 629 migrants after Italy’s rejection

Italy 'to shut ports' to boat carrying over 600 refugees

Italy 'to shut ports' to boat carrying over 600 refugees

He also complained, on Facebook that: "Malta takes in nobody". "This could compromise all the work and cooperation between us over the past few years".

Italy has denied permission for a rescue ship to drop off 629 migrants after Malta refused to open its ports.

Italy has refused to allow a humanitarian ship carrying more than 600 migrants and refugees to dock at its ports, officials say, and has now asked the Mediterranean island of Malta to open its doors to the vessel.

SOS Mediterranee said the passengers on its ship, the Aquarius, included 400 people who were picked up by the Italian navy, the country's coastguard and private cargo ships and transferred.

Salvini, the leader of the far-right League, was rejected by Malta who said the ship fell under Italy's jurisdiction.

Malta has refused to take in the Aquarius.

SOS Mediterranee confirmed that there were 629 people on board, including 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 other children and seven pregnant women after being involved in six rescue operations off the coast of Libya.

However, Mr Salvini does not have authority over the ports and it was not immediately clear if his edict would hold.

The government of Malta expressed concern that Italy is going against worldwide rules in the way it is tackling the issue regarding stranded migrants.

Italy's spat with Malta began after its reported refusal to come to the aid of another rescue ship Seefuchs, which was stranded with 126 migrants on board due to violent seas until it was allowed to dock in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo on Saturday.

Sea-Watch said police also questioned some of the rescued migrants who, after being processed by the authorities, are likely to end up in reception centres.

SOS Mediterranee said Maltese search-and-rescue authorities were contacted by their Italian counterparts "to find the best solution for the well-being and safety" of the people on the ship.

Dalli accused the Italian government of breaching worldwide maritime laws by refusing to allow the Aquarius to berth in its ports.

More than 550,000 migrants have arrived in Italy between June 2014 and June 2017.

SOS Méditerranée spokesperson Mathilde Auvillain said the boat had received orders to head north after a series of sea rescues and was now was awaiting "definitive instructions".

To the east, Libya's coast guard intercepted 152 migrants, including women and children, from two boats stopped in the Mediterranean off the coast of the western Zuwara district Saturday.

The summer of 2016 saw a surge in mass drownings in the Mediterranean as Europe's worst migration crisis since World War II peaked with hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and elsewhere.

The United Nations says at least 785 migrants have died crossing the sea so far this year.

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