Italian mayors rebel against Salvini’s order to block migrant ship

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The new ruling coalition ran on a platform of being Euroskeptics who wanted to set their own immigration and border control policies rather than deferring to the EU.

The Italian government has urged Malta to take the 629 migrants, rescued this weekend and now aboard a boat managed by the SOS Mediterranee aid group. The usual suspects are up in arms, but the Italians want other countries to start sharing this burden.

Having come under fire for banning the migrant rescue ship "Aquarius" with 629 people on board from docking at its ports, Italy's new government says it's been left alone by the European Union to deal with the uncontrolled influx of refugees.

The ship, Aquarius, is operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the SOS Mediterranee organizations.

Mr Salvini and Transportation Minister Danilo Toninelli, who is part of the 5-Star Movement faction in the new government, said in a joint statement that it was Malta's responsibility to "open its ports for the hundreds of the rescued on the NGO ship Aquarius".

The move also created rifts with Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat who said the he was "worried about the direction taken by the Italian authorities" that according to him went against global law.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini sent out a message explaining why the ship was being told to hold on station.

Salvini's comments came after another spat with Malta following 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. It's a fair question.

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Italian politicians split over Mr Salvini's decision.

Operation Themis, which replaced Operation Triton was put in effect earlier this year, meaning that Italy was no longer obliged to take all migrants rescued from the Mediterranean Sea.

Left-wing mayor Luigi De Magistris said he would welcome in the humanitarian boat and added: "Naples is ready, without funds, to save lives".

In a video, she said: "People are slowly getting up and getting ready for their first meal and we are yet to learn which port they are going to be using to disembark".

The migrants had been rescued during a series of operations Saturday by Italian maritime ships, cargo vessels and the Aquarius itself. "He has once again shown that we are under an extreme far-right government" he said, reports The Guardian.

The French organisation said that 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 small children and seven pregnant women are among those brought on board.

On Friday, he suggested North Atlantic Treaty Organisation intervene to protect Italy, saying the country is "under attack from the south". That stance "confirms the latest unwillingness of Malta and, thus, of Europe, to intervene and take care of the emergency". France and Spain have previously said it's not their job either.