Reluctant Salvini says okay for minors to leave Italy migrant ship

ROME (AFP) – Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini yesterday reluctantly authorised 27 migrant children rescued at sea to disembark from a charity vessel anchored in limbo off Lampedusa island for days.

In a letter, Salvini told Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte he could authorise the “alleged” minors to leave the Open Arms ship, despite it being “divergent to my orientation.”

However, the remaining 105 adults and two accompanied children must stay on board in what the charity Proactiva Open Arms said were “untenable” conditions.

“The go-ahead for the disembarkation of these people is the exclusive responsibility of the prime minister,” Salvini wrote in reply to a humanitarian request from Conte. The interior minister has the final say on border issues.

The charity said it would need time to break the news to the migrants that most of them must remain on board. Some were rescued more than two weeks ago.

“They will be evacuated by the coastguard of Lampedusa,” it tweeted.

Migrants sit aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat as it arrives near Lampedusa coast in the Mediterranean Sea. PHOTO: AP