Lifeline to dock in Malta, Italy to take some migrants-Conte

Hope other countries do the same says premier

Rome, June 26 - Premier Giuseppe Conte said Tuesday that Malta has agreed to let the Lifeline dock there while Italy is set to receive some of the migrants that it has on board. "I have just spoke on the telephone to (Maltese) Premier (Joseph) Muscat," Conte said.

"The Lifeline NGO ship will dock in Malta. "Consistent with the cardinal principle of our proposal on immigration - according to which, those who land on the Italian, Spanish, Greek or Maltese coast, land in Europe - Italy will do its bit and receive a quota of the migrants aboard the Lifeline, with the hope that the other European countries do the same, as they have in part pre-announced".

The Italian government had threatened to impound the Lifeline if it came to Italy, saying its rescue of over 200 migrants off the coast of Libya was illegal. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has spearheaded the tough stance on migrants of the new League/5-Star Movement (M5S) government that saw another NGO-run migrant-rescue ship, the Aquarius, have to travel to Valencia after it was denied permission to dock in an Italian port.

A European Commission spokesperson said Tuesday that Italy should not be left to handle the burden of all the ships that rescue migrants in the southern Mediterranean in its own.

"There are lots of parties doing rescues in the Mediterranean, between NGOs and national ships," the spokesperson said. "Clearly there is a problem. It is not fair that just one EU country receives these ships and we understand the Italian position.

"This was one of the points of discussion on Sunday (at an informal meeting of EU leaders) and it will also be at the (upcoming) European Council. "We are working on disembarkment options and a better system of disembarkment and management of search and rescue. "A system that works is needed".



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