Italy’s hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini on Friday welcomed a charity rescue boat’s arrival at the southern Spanish port of Algecircas with 310 migrants aboard who had spent a week stranded in the Mediterranean.
“The NGO Open Arms has docked in Spain with 310 illegal immigrants on board. Mission accomplished,” Salvini wrote on social media.
Most of the migrants are African and were picked up off the Libyan coast, where Proactiva Open Arms and two other charities said last month they were launching a joint rescue operation for migrants.
Several European countries including Malta and Italy had refused entry to the Proactiva Open Arms vessel although a mother and her newborn baby were taken by helicopter to Malta.
Since taking office in June, Salvini, who is also deputy premier, has taken a tough line against migrants and has closed Italy’s ports to rescue vessels, demanding that other European Union countries help out.
Over 700,000 migrants have landed in Italy since 2014, fleeing poverty and conflict in their homelands.