Rome (dpa), Aug 21, 2018 - Italy on Monday ended a four-day diplomatic stand-off on the fate of 177 migrants plucked from the central Mediterranean by allowing them to dock in Sicily, but insisted that they should then be redistributed among other European Union states.
The migrants are aboard an Italian coastguard vessel, the Diciotti, which rescued them in Maltese search and rescue waters. Since then, Malta and Italy argued over whose responsibility it was to take in the migrants.
“The Diciotti ship will dock in Catania,” Infrastructure and Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli wrote on Twitter. Referring to Italy’s burden-sharing demands, he added: “Now Europe should quickly play its part.”
Earlier, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini retracted a threat made Sunday to send the migrants back to Libya.
However, sources from his ministry said he would not allow migrants to get off the boat until there would be “certainty the 177 would go somewhere else.” Italy was waiting for “answers from Europe.”
The European Union and the United Nations have repeatedly warned that returning sea migrants to Libya - where they risk abuse and torture - would be illegal. The European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy over the issue in 2012.