Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said he was working to prevent two rescue ships operated by French and Spanish charities from bringing more than 500 migrants to Italy in the latest Mediterranean stand-off.
The Ocean Viking, which is run by French non-governmental groups (NGOs) Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee, has picked up some 356 migrants off the coast of Libya since Friday, while Spanish boat Open Arms has saved some 160 people.
Both vessels are in the central Mediterranean, within easy sailing distance of the Italian island of Lampedusa and are seeking a safe port to disembark the mainly African migrants.
On Tuesday, a baby with a respiratory condition and the child’s family were evacuated to Lampedusa from the Open Arms which is demanding a safe port since it carried out a rescue operation 13 days ago.
The United Nations’ refugee agency called on European governments to intervene, warning that storms were approaching.