Dutch reject Italian call to take 47 rescued migrants

THE HAGUE (AFP) – The Netherlands on Monday refused a request by Italy to take in 47 migrants stuck on board a Dutch-flagged rescue ship that Italian ports have refused to allow to dock.

The Sea Watch 3 ship, run by a German NGO, rescued the mainly sub-Saharan African migrants off Libya more than a week ago and is currently sheltering from bad weather off Sicily.

The Mediterranean nations of Italy and Malta have both refused to let the vessel dock.

“Without a firm idea of an overall solution, the Netherlands will not take part in ad hoc measures for disembarkation” of the ship, Lennart Wegewijs, a spokesman for the Dutch Justice and Security Ministry, told AFP.

Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has insisted Germany or the Netherlands take responsibility for the migrants, warning that he was considering legal action against the crew.

In a statement on Monday the Italian government reiterated its assertion that “the jurisdiction, in this specific case, belongs to the Netherlands because the ship that carried out the rescue in international waters is flying the flag of that country”.