Rescue Ship Stranded in Political Standoff Over Italian Ports
More than 600 people are stranded at sea after a rescue ship was refused permission to dock in Italy. Italy’s new interior minister Matteo Salvini said the country’s ports are now “shut” to migrant rescuers.
The mayor of the Italian port city of Palermo, Leoluca Orlando, has since offered to defy Salvini and allow the Aquarius, operated by NGO SOS Mediterranee, to dock.
“We have always welcomed rescue boats and vessels who saved lives at sea,” Orlando was reported by the Guardian as saying. “We will not stop now. Salvini is violating the international law. He has once again shown that we are under an extreme far-right government.”
The decision was reportedly backed by other mayors in Italy’s south, including those in Naples, Messina and Reggio Calabria.
Right-winger Salvini, whose Northern League party is the junior partner in a new populist coalition, campaigned on promises of mass deportation of migrants.
The standoff has seen pressure on Malta to accept the 629 migrants rescued at sea over the weekend. Malta has long ceded its own search and rescue zone to Rome on the understanding that migrants would not be brought to port on the island state.
Malta allows NGO rescue ships to dock but its government has repeatedly promised the Maltese that none of the people they rescue will be allowed to disembark.
For its part the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, which operates a team aboard the Aquarius, said the vessel would continue north in search of a secure port.
Arrest of Suspect in Murder of German Girl Fuels Immigration Debate
Germany is facing calls for tougher asylum laws in response to a high-profile rape and murder case. An Iraqi man is suspected in the killing of a 14-year-old German girl.
The Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party called for faster deportation after a 20-year-old suspect, identified by German authorities as Ali Bashar, was arrested in Iraq by Iraqi-Kurdish authorities. He is expected to be extradited.
“The procedures and rules for asylum, refuge and integration must be put under scrutiny,” Christian Baldauf, leader of Merkel’s conservatives in the state parliament of Rhineland-Palatinate, told Rheinpfalz am Sonntag newspaper.
Refugee Haven Jordan Faces Economic Crisis and Protests
Jordan’s king is in Saudi Arabia, where he hopes to secure major new aid commitments. King Abdullah’s visit comes after peaceful protests over austerity cuts in Jordan as the kingdom faces an economic crisis.
Jordan is receiving aid and subsidized loans from Western allies in return for hosting more than 1 million Syrian refugees and partially opening its labor market.
However, the support has not been sufficient to address aid-dependent Jordan’s expanding population and public-sector wage bill. The king is reportedly seeking an equivalent to a $5 billion bailout from wealthy Gulf states that was awarded in 2011 in the midst of democracy protests in Arab states.
Jordan is a major recipient of European aid, much of which seeks to prevent Syrian refugees moving further west.
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