More than 1,200 new migrants arrived at the port of Salerno Thursday, June 29, the day after Italy threatened to close their ports to aid groups rescuing migrants off of Libya’s coast.
Italian authorities said 1,216 migrants, including 256 minors, were brought to the port of Salerno by a Spanish ship that rescued them in the sea off the coast of Libya.
A half-dozen different ships offloaded more than 10,000 migrants rescued in recent days as Rome struggled to cope with the highest rate of rescues so far this year.
“Italy has reached saturation point,” said Rome’s EU ambassador, Maurizio Massari.
Massari met EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos Wednesday and warned that “the situation we are facing is serious and Europe cannot turn its back.”
Despite the tense diplomatic environment, local Italian officials and citizens are continuing to provide life-saving assistance for the many migrants who show up each day.
“Like always we’ve provided medical assistance to those on board who were wounded. We have no news of migrants being seriously ill. Our first civil and ethical duty is to provide medical assistance,” said Salvatore Malfa, Prefect of Salerno.
“After completing the police checks, (the migrants) will be distributed all over Italy, apart from 300 of them who will stay in our region (Campania). Little by little they’ll leave from here.”
For years, hundreds of thousands of migrants trying to escape torture, rape, and human trafficking in war-torn Libya have been flooding into Italy and Greece. Many Mediterranean countries have closed their borders to humanitarian rescue ships, increasing the burden for Italy.
By John Perry for NTD News