Italy: Salvini victorious as NGO ship gives up trying to land migrants

NGO Sea-Eye have announced they will not be challenging the 'closed port' policy introduced by PM

Tuesday 06 August - The Sea-Eye vessel Alan Kurdi announced on Friday that they would be changing course from the Italian island of Lampedusa and heading instead to the Maltese port capital of Valletta.

Gordon Isler, a spokesman for the NGO, said they would 'not offer Matteo Salvini another opportunity for such an unworthy show. We take our responsibilities to the saved people seriously and now we go to Malta.'

Spanish migrant transport NGO Proactiva Open Arms also announced Friday that they had picked up 123 migrants and were heading to Europe — rather than closer ports in North Africa — for a 'safe haven', but did not give any specifics on which country they were headed.

Immediately after the announcement, Italy’s populist Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini signed a ban on the vessel docking in Italy.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée have also begun a new mission just off the coast of Libya in the so-called search and rescue (SAR) zone after initially giving up operations in December of last year.

The new MSF vessel, the Ocean Viking, set sail for Libya from the port of Marseille on Friday. At 69.3 meters long and 15.5 meters wide, it is slightly smaller than the NGO’s previous vessel the Aquarius, which had its Panamanian flag removed last year and MSF blamed pressure from Matteo Salvini and the Italian government for the move.

Author's comment: Matteo Salvini's 'closed port' policy has been credited for a sharp drop in migrant deaths over the past few months, according to the International Organisation for Migration. It's not rocket science - if migrants know that they have little to no chance of reaching Europe, then they are less likely to risk their lives on a perilous sea journey.

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