Italy’s new government sends immigration message by rejecting rescue ship


Italy’s new populist government has delivered a jolt to European migration politics, prompting a diplomatic standoff with its refusal to accept a rescue vessel overloaded with migrants.

Even after Spain offered to open its doors on Monday, the incident was not fully resolved, because the Aquarius — with 629 people aboard, including unaccompanied minors, pregnant women and people suffering chemical burns — still faced a grueling multiday journey from near the coast of Malta to the Spanish port of Valencia.

The dispute was among the first consequences of political upheaval in Italy, where anti-migrant leaders recently rose to power with a pledge to crack down on new arrivals from the Middle East and Africa. At a news conference on Monday, Italy’s powerful interior minister, Matteo Salvini, protested the inequity of Italy serving as a primary entry point for refugees and migrants while other members of the European Union balk at helping to resettle them.

“This was a first important signal that Italy cannot go on alone supporting this huge weight,” said Salvini, who threatened to bar additional rescue vessels.

Read more at the Washington Post