Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, after relentlessly refusing to accept a boat carrying 226 migrants, now says that he will take them in, but will impound the ship.
Salvini claimed earlier on Thursday that Mission Lifeline, a German-based charity organization, pulled immigrants stranded on rubber boats in international waters even though the Italian Coast Guard gave orders to let Libya rescue the boats.
“You have intentionally not listened to Italian or Libyan authorities. Good. Then take this load of human beings to the Netherlands,” Salvini said in a Facebook Live post according to Reuters.
“They would not have been safe taken back to Libya,”a spokesman for the charity said.
Salvini, head of the anti-immigrant and anti-establishment League party, has turned away multiple migrant ships in recent weeks, declaring they are no longer allowed to port on Italian land and that Italy wants to “stop the mafia of illegal immigration.”
Salvini declared that while he wants to save lives, he is “paid by Italians to defend the safety of Italian citizens.” (RELATED: Italy Demands Apology From Macron While Ripping Soros Over Migrant Hypocrisy)
Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said he called on the Netherlands earlier in June to acknowledge the ship, because it was supposedly carrying the Dutch flag, and accused Lifeline of acting “outside international law.”
Toninelli appeared to have changed his mind hours later, saying that it’s too dangerous for a boat with that many people to travel all the way to the Netherlands.
“We will assume the humanitarian generosity and responsibility to save these people and take them onto Italian coastguard ships,” Toninelli in a video posted on Facebook.
The Italian Coast Guard plans to bring the boat to an Italian port, and impound the ship, he added.
“They have a Dutch flag, but they are not registered in the Netherlands, and therefore are not under Dutch state flag responsibility,” Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman Lennart Wegewijs told Reuters.
The European Union, urged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is planning an emergency meeting on Sunday in order to resolve ongoing immigration problems and restrict movement of asylum seekers within the E.U.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect Salvini saying Italy will take the migrants.
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