Refugees stuck off Lampedusa to be allowed to land in Sicily

Refugees stuck off Lampedusa to be allowed to land in Sicily
A boat carrying refugees will be permitted to land in Sicily, but may not be able to disembark.
2 min read
20 August, 2018
Anti-immigration sentiment has grown in Italy (Getty)
Around 180 refugees who have been stuck off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa for four days will be allowed to land in Sicily, Italy's transport minister said Monday.

"The Diciotti vessel will dock in Catania", Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter, referring to the coastguard vessel which saved them.

"The brave men of the coastguard have fulfilled their duty by saving lives barely 17 miles from Lampedusa. Now Europe must quickly play its part," he added.

However, Italian media reported sources close to Interior Minister Matteo Salvini as saying he would "not give any authorisation to disembark".

Salvini, of the far-right League party, entered government in a populist coalition after elections in March in which he ran on an anti-immigration platform.

Salvini had previously threatened to send the people to Libya if other European countries did not participate in a solution.

"Either Europe decides to seriously offer Italy some concrete help, beginning with for example the 180 immigrants on board the Diciotti ship, or we will be forced to do what will definitively end the human traffickers' business. That means taking the people saved in the sea back to Libya," Salvini said in a statement.

The Diciotti vessel has been stuck off the coast of Lampedusa since Thursday due to a lack of permission to land. The Italian government had previously demanded Malta take responsibility for the migrants.

The Maltese government says the refugees aboard the Diciotti refused the help of a Maltese boat as they wanted to reach Lampedusa.