Germany Tells Italy to Open Borders to African Migrants
Italian leader responds, saying: 'We are not the refugee camp of Europe'
Germany's interior minister has told Italian leader Matteo Salvini to open Italy's borders to ships carrying migrants from Africa that the country is refusing entry to.
Horst Seehofer made the call to his Italian counterpart, populist Interior Minister Salvini, after Italy recently blocked migrant ships from docking in its ports.
Seehofer is calling on Salvini to reopen the country’s ports to migrant transport vessels as NGOs continue to traffic people from the Libyan coast into Europe.
Open borders advocate Seehofer is asking Salvini why he has closed Italy’s ports when most of the migrants eventually end up docking and disembarking regardless, Il Giornale reports.
“I want to avoid the same pattern being repeated every time, with a ship with migrants waiting for eight or 14 days in front of Italy’s coasts and Salvini who does not want them to go ashore," Seehofer said in a statement.
"But it always ends up docking anyway, either because migrants collapse, get sick, or there are pregnant women.”
Seehofer’s comments come in response to an agreement that was reached last Wednesday between the EU and Italy.
The deal allows migrants onboard Italian coastguard vessels to disembark at an Italian port so long as they would be relocated to other EU member states.
In response to his German counterpart’s remarks, Mr. Salvini said, “We are not opening anything, the ports remain closed.”
Populist Salvini warned Seehofer; “We are not the refugee camp of Europe.”
Salvini’s defiant words echo statements he made while responding to France's President Emmanuel Macron after the French leader condemned him for not showing up to a migration conference Paris.
“Italy will not be your refugee camp," Salvini declared.
"There is the port of Marseille so don’t come and put pressure on us.
"If you expect us to sign a document where ships arrive in Italy, you are wrong.
"Italians are no longer going to be anyone’s slaves."
Recently, NGOs operating migrant transport vessels in the Mediterranean have ramped up their efforts.
French NGO SOS Mediterranee’s new ship announced that it had resumed its collection and transportation of migrants into Europe.
The German NGO Sea-Eye’s “Alan Kurdi” ship announced that it too had resumed its migrant collection and transportation service as well.
Earlier in the week, a spokesperson for Sea-Eye Gordon Isler announced that it had picked up 40 migrants while mentioning that the closest safe port was the Italian port of Lampedusa.
In a statement directed at NGOs claiming to have migrants' best interests at heart, Salvini said:
“If the NGO really cares about the health of immigrants, it can set a course for Tunisia: if instead, they think of coming to Italy as if nothing had happened, they have the wrong minister.”