Published: August 13, 2019
More than 500 migrants and refugees afloat in the central Mediterranean were in limbo on Monday, as the two aid ships that had rescued them searched for a safe port that would take them.
The impasse came days after Italy had announced fines of up to €1 million — more than $1.1 million — for ships carrying unauthorized migrants that attempted to dock in Italian ports without permission. It has ordered the seizure of such ships, and arrested the captain of one.
The ships, operated by charities, provide the only search and rescue operations in the international waters where often-unseaworthy boats packed with people attempt to cross from Libya to the nearest European country, Italy.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and a deputy prime minister, has used harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric to build up his own popularity and that of his League party. He has been the main architect of policies that seek to close the country off to further migration from the Middle East and Africa. source