Italy to close ports to NGO migrant ships 'all summer'

Rescued migrants are seen waiting to disembark from the Danish container ship, the Alexander Maersk, at the port of Sicilian port of Pozzallo on June 26, 2018.
Rescued migrants are seen waiting to disembark from the Danish container ship, the Alexander Maersk, at the port of Sicilian port of Pozzallo on June 26, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

ROME (AFP) - Italy's hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini announced on Friday (June 29) that Italian ports would be closed "all summer" to NGO ships which rescue migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe.

"The NGOs will only see Italy on a postcard," quipped Mr Salvini, who is also the new deputy prime minister and head of the far-right League party.

"The ports will be closed all summer," he said on Italian radio.

He added that the ban would concern not only access to ports but also "the furnishing of fuel to the NGOs".

"As the Italian military tells me as well as the Libyans, the NGOs help traffickers, consciously or not," said Mr Salvini.

But he stressed that Italy with other states "would continue to save all those who need to be saved".

Mr Salvini's comments come on the day that a European Union summit reached a deal on migration after Italy had threatened to scupper it if its demands for help were not met.

 
 

"Finally Europe has been forced to accept the argument of Italy's proposal," Mr Salvini commented, noting that past Italian governments had been ignored by Brussels.

"Our numerous demands have been accepted. Italy is coming out of its isolation and playing a new role."