Salvini Blocks Spanish Migrant Ship Docking in Italy: 'Go to Socialist Spain'
Open Arms migrant ship ordered to leave Italian waters and return to Spain
Italy's populist leader has blocked a Spanish ship, carrying over a hundred migrants from Africa, from docking in Italian ports and ordered the vessel to return to socialist Spain instead.
On Sunday, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused to let the 107 African migrants on board the Spanish Open Arms ferry disembark into Italy.
Salvini ordered the ship to leave Italian waters, saying the ship and its crew were attempting to "provoke" his government over their tough anti-mass-migration laws.
Spain has now agreed that the Spanish ship in the southern Mediterranean can sail to Spain and disembark its passengers in Algeciras.
In a statement Sunday, Salvini said the Open Arms is anchored off the southern island of Lampedusa “just to provoke me and Italy.”
17 days after it picked up migrants off Libya, the boat’s crew says conditions on the ship are “miserable.”
Six other EU countries have said they’ll take the migrants in, but the ship has been pushing to dock in Italy and Salvini has refused.
The Open Arms crew didn’t immediately say if it will now go to Spain, which is several days’ sailing away.
The group is now accusing Salvini of using the 107 migrants for “xenophobic and racist propaganda.”
Last week, multi-millionaire Hollywood actor Richard Gere jetted in to visit the migrant ship.
The "Pretty Woman" star boarded the Spanish boat where it is stranded in the Mediterranean Sea after being refused entry to Italy.
69-year-old Gere made comparisons between Salvini, who has made repeated efforts to block migrant ships from docking in Italy, and US President Donald Trump, who has faced widespread criticism for his immigration policies.
The actor demanded that Italy opens its border to the migrants and declared that the Italian government needs to stop “demonizing people.”
Following public demands by #RichardGear, that Italy opens its borders to African #migrants, Italian leader Matteo #Salvini told the "generous millionaire" actor to fly them to Hollywood on his private jet and house "them in his villas."— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) August 13, 2019
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Italy’s Salvini hit back, saying Gere should take the 160 migrants to Hollywood.
“Given this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him: he can take them back to Hollywood, on his private plane, all the people aboard and support them in his villas," Salvini said in a statement.
"Thank you Richard!” he added.