Italian Minister tells aid ship under 'Dutch' flag to bring asylum seekers to NL

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Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari). Asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean sea (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Vito Manzari)

Italy refused to allow rescue ship Lifeline to dock after it picked up a few hundred asylum seekers on the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya. "Go to the Netherlands with those people", Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said, RTL Nieuws reports.

The ship belongs to German aid organization Mission Lifeline and sails under the Dutch flag, according to the organization. But the Netherlands denies this. "Lifeline is not registered in the Dutch cadaster", the Ministry of Security and Justice said to NU.nl. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management said the same to RTL Nieuws. Mission Lifeline posted a photo of its Dutch registration form on Twitter in response.

According to the Italians, the ship picked up the asylum seekers against the will of the Italian coast guard. "Make your trip a little longer", Salvini said, according to RTL. "This fake aid organization can no longer enter Italy."

Last week several Italian Ministers came into action against foreign aid organizations' rescue ships picking asylum seekers up in the Mediterranean and taking them to Italian ports. Italy's recently installed new government no longer wants to allow an unlimited number of migrants and believes that other European countries must take responsibility. 

The Italian authorities are preparing to seize the ship Lifeline to check its papers, NU.nl reports. "The ship broke the law by picking up the migrants while the Libyan Coast Guard was already on its way", Italian Minister of Infrastructure Danilo Toninelli said. "That's why we're going to check the papers of the ship." It is not clear what will happen to the asylum seekers aboard Lifeline when the ship docks at an Italian port for inspection. 

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