'Italy’s hardline interior minister wants to ban all migrant rescue vessels from entering Italian territorial waters, in a sharp escalation of his campaign against asylum seekers.
Matteo Salvini has already closed Italy’s ports to NGO ships that rescue migrants at sea but now wants to go a step further, barring them from even approaching Italian shores.
Mr Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister and head of the hard-Right League, has seen his electoral support soar since cracking down on migrants and the humanitarian groups that rescue them at sea after they depart the coast of Libya in dinghies and boats.
“The objective is to identify a standard procedure for when there are new arrivals of NGO ships,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
Rescue ships that “encourage clandestine immigration” would be regarded as “representing a risk to national security”, the ministry said.
Danilo Toninelli, the transport minister, said: “We are studying a regulation that would block the approach of NGOs for public order reasons.”
While the populist coalition works on drawing up the new regime, a rescue vessel with 47 migrants on board docked in the port of Catania in Sicily after a stand-off with the government was finally resolved.
Mr Salvini had refused entry to the Sea Watch 3, which had been allowed to seek shelter off the coast of Sicily but not land, until six other EU countries finally agreed to share out the migrants and consider their asylum applications.
The migrants, who included 15 minors, embraced each other and smiled as they were led off the vessel, which is operated by a German NGO, Sea Watch.
Mr Salvini has called for the NGO to be investigated and the crew, who include four Britons, fear they may be arrested.'
Read more: Matteo Salvini wants to ban migrant rescue vessels from entering Italy's territorial waters
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