France's Emmanuel Macron blasts Italy for 'cynicism' over migrant ship

Italy’s new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini

Italy has taken in more than 640,000 mainly African migrants over the past five years.

"The men, women and children aboard the Aquarius have risked their lives on perilous seas to escape horrific abuses in Libya only to find themselves caught in an unconscionable political stand-off between two European states".

"Bizarrely, 400 of these people were transferred to Aquarius from Italian navy and coast guard ships" during their initial rescue, MSF wrote.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen called for the boats to "return where they came from" and said charities rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean were "the accomplices of the people-trafficking mafia".

Italy's new anti-migrant, right-wing interior minister, Matteo Salvini, is making good on a campaign pledge to close Italian ports to non-governmental organizations that pick up migrants at sea, which he has likened to taxi services for migrant smugglers.

He says Malta would send fresh supplies to The Aquarius. "We need to show solidarity which Italy has not shown".

The 629 migrants, including 11 children and seven pregnant women, have been drifting in the central Mediterranean aboard the Aquarius rescue ship since Sunday, when both Italy and Malta shut their ports to it.

"Nobody asked us to deliver them supplies, but we delivered them anyway because we understood the difficulty of the situation", Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said in Parliament last night.

Given that the aid ship had no emergency, Italy made a decision to appeal to other European countries "so they don't leave Italy alone yet again in managing the migratory flows, which is a phenomenon that is all of Europe's business", Di Maio said in a Facebook post.

So Spain announced Monday that it would open the port of Valencia to the ship and the 629 migrants it carried. Earlier, a spokesperson for Macron's party, Gabriel Attal, said on a TV show that "the line of the Italian government is nauseating".

But Mathilde Auvillan, the SOS Mediterranee press officer, told HuffPost UK: "We are still waiting for the instructions from the Rome MRCC, which coordinated the rescue and transfer operations".

"It's clear right now, too many people will drown if we're not out here", he said.

"Italy can not accept hypocritical lessons from countries that have always preferred to turn their backs when it comes to immigration", Conte said in a statement.

Under a European Union agreement, the country where asylum-seekers arrive and are identified must care for them until their asylum requests are decided, a process that can take a couple of years.

"The duty of a democratic government is not to look away" in a humanitarian crisis, said Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau, who also offered her port as a potential solution to the standoff.

Both Italy and Malta had come under increasing global pressure to allow the migrant rescue ship to dock, and they continued to argue over who was responsible.

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted his thanks to Sanchez "for agreeing to accept the Aquarius after Italy violated global law and caused an impasse".

Malta and Italy thanked Spain for stepping up, but maintained their dispute over who was responsible. The boats will soon charter a course to Spain, whose new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said he feels obliged on a humanitarian level to welcome them in. The proposed changes would arguably increase the pressure on Italy without ensuring a more equitable distribution of responsibility. "This time we say no".

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