No one will land in Italy without my authorization,- Salvini

A week after the Italian coastguard rescued nearly 200 migrants, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Thursday restated his refusal to let them land in Italy and accused EU partners of inaction.

“No one will land in Italy without my authorization,” Salvini, of the anti-immigration League party, said in a radio interview.

The migrants were rescued by the Diciotti vessel overnight on August 15th in a new drama that has sparked a political row within Italy, with former Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of the centre-left Democratic Party branding Salvini’s handling of the situation a “national disgrace”.

Salvini, meanwhile, has renewed accusations that fellow EU states are shirking their responsibilities. In a Facebook post he accused several European countries, including Germany and Spain, of reneging on an agreement to take migrants who were allowed to land in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo in July.

“Why should we trust them this time? Before asking for the disembarkation of the Diciotti, Europe should give us explanations. I’m not backing down.”

Thirteen of the some 190 migrants were allowed off for health reasons on the island of Lampedusa before the vessel carried on to the Sicilian port of Catania.

Late on Wednesday, Salvini agreed to allow 27 unaccompanied minors off the boat but the rest remain trapped on board, despite calls from the UNHCR and aid agencies for them to be allowed off.

Salvini insists those who remain on board are “illegal immigrants” and do not have the right to humanitarian protection accorded to refugees.

The nationalities of those still on board is not clear but according to Save the Children, almost all of the children who were allowed off on Wednesday are from Eritrea, whose regime of compulsory military service has been likened to slavery by the UN.

Prosecutors in the Sicilian city of Agrigento have opened an inquiry into “abduction” over the Diciotti case and according to Italian media reports President Sergio Mattarella has privately expressed concerns that the row could damage Italy’s image abroad.

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