Michael Farrugia, the Minister of Home Affairs and National Security, has called out Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini after the Italian said the Spanish-registered NGO ship Open Arms, which is carrying 50 migrants, should dock in Malta. Salvini said that Malta offered the closest port, however both Dr Farrugia as well as the Government of Malta refuted this in tweets, re-igniting the recent political spate over migration that was brought to the fore with the Aquarius row.
“Just to clarify that the Open Arms intervention occurred in SRR Libica which is between Libya and Lampedusa, Italy. Stop spreading fake news by throwing Malta into a dispute without valid reason. We are publishing the map so everyone can see for themselves. These are facts not opinions,” Dr Farrugia said.
#Malta Maltese Gov @MaltaGov publishes map showing location of #OpenArms in relation to closest ports, proving that #Lampedusa is the closest port of call | #Migration #Mediterranean https://t.co/J49GCmN5Tv
— Government of Malta ???????? (@MaltaGov) June 30, 2018
@matteosalvinimi solo per chiarire che intervento #OpenArms e’ accaduto in SRR Libica tra Libia e Lampedusa, Italia. La smetta di diffondere notizie scorrette tirando in ballo Malta senza alcuna ragione.Publiciamo mappa cosi tutti possono constatare.Questi sono fatti non opinioni pic.twitter.com/mLvCk4w456
— Michael Farrugia (@dr_micfarr) June 30, 2018
The responses were in reply to a tweet from Salvini
Salvini was quick to tweet out as soon as the Open Arms appeared on his radar. “The nearest port is Malta, forget landing in an Italian port. Stop the mafia of human trafficking: if fewer people leave, fewer people die,” he tweeted.
Questa nave @openarms_fund si trova in acque Sar della Libia, porto più vicino Malta, Ong e bandiera della Spagna: si scordino di arrivare in un porto italiano.
Stop alla mafia del traffico di esseri umani: meno persone partono, meno persone muoiono.#chiudiamoiporti pic.twitter.com/mFrbEXNTHq
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) June 30, 2018
The Maltese Government is standing by the fact that the closest port of call to the Open Arms is Italy, and as such, the Open Arms is Italy’s responsibility
The Open Arms in Malta on a previous mission
The Open Arms is just the latest ship to encounter a fiercely anti-migrant Italy alongside a Maltese Government not willing to budge. After the Aquarius was sent to Spain, the Lifeline was allowed into Malta on condition that its captain be arrested and the 234 migrants on board be split between various EU member states.