A Spanish charity appealed for help on Wednesday August 7th after its ship carrying 121 migrants was turned away by Italy and Malta, AFP has reported.
Oscar Camps, the founder of ‘Proactiva Open Arms’ NGO, called on Monday August 5th for European countries to agree to take in the 121 migrants rescued last week from two boats off Libya.
"Six days have gone by without a reply, without the dignity of those on board being recognised," the non-profit organisation wrote on Twitter. "Malta has denied the right to disembark and Italy is not answering," it said.
The Open Arms currently lies in international waters southwest of Malta and east of the Italian island of Lampedusa, according to the website, vesselfinder.com.
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini did reply with a ban on the Open Arms entering Italian territorial waters and a threat to seize it. "Open Arms should not forget, Italian territorial waters are closed to them and we are ready to seize the ship," Salvini posted on Twitter.
Italy's parliament on Monday passed further security legislation imposing stiffer penalties on NGO migrant rescue boats. Vessels involved in search and rescue operations can be confiscated and captains fined up to one million dollars for entering Italian waters without permission. Salvini has insisted since coming to power last year that rescued migrants can land in Italy only if an agreement is already in place with other European countries to look after them.
Also on August 7th, the Ocean Viking vessel, which is jointly operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the migrant aid charity SOS Mediterranee, said Maltese authorities had denied its request to refuel in Italy’s territorial waters.