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Eritrea for mobile viewing Italy's far-right interior minister once again refuses sanctuary for desperate migrants

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Date: Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Mare Jonio ship (right) is flanked by Italian Coast Guard and finance police boats off the coast of the Lampedusa island, Italy, today

ITALY’S far-right interior minister once again refused to allow migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea to come ashore today.

A ship operated by Italian NGO Mediterranea Saving Lives pulled 49 people from a sinking rubber boat 42 miles off the coast of Libya yesterday after they were discovered by a “spotter plane” operated by another NGO called Sea Watch.

The charity posted dramatic footage of the rescue on social media soon afterwards and called on the Italian government to provide a “safe haven” for the migrants.

But Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the migrants would not be allowed to enter the country, telling an Italian TV station that they “can be treated, dressed and fed. We can give them every manner of comfort, but they will not set foot in Italy.”

Mediterranea Saving Lives said the ship, the Mare Jonio, “is currently heading towards Lampedusa, the closest safe haven in the area where the rescue was performed.

“Meanwhile, there is a heavy storm coming in the central Mediterranean. We formally asked Italy, our flag state and the state legally and geographically responsible, a port of disembarkation for those people.”

Mare Jonio, the charity said, “had performed the rescue according to international human rights law, maritime law and the Italian navigation code.”

Mr Salvini turned a deaf ear to the charity’s pleas, taking to Twitter to insist: “The ports have been, and remain, closed.”

The alt-right poster then proceeded to use the occasion to smear one of the charity’s organisers, Luca Casarini, who is a prominent left-wing activist.

“Here is Luca Casarini,” Mr Salvini wrote above an old photo of Casarini, “known among other things for having opened the tavern The Dead Cop.

“Pampered by the [Democratic Party] and the left, today [he is] at the head of the floating social centre heading to Lampedusa. And should we give in to these characters?”

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