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THE European Union was accused of “surrendering migrant lives to mafias” during a press conference hosted on Lampudesa island as a rescue organisation vowed to continue protecting lives at sea.
Spanish non-governmental organisation (NGO) Proactiva: Open Arms director Oscar Camps told those gathered that “in international waters there are no immigrants.
“No decree, no fine, no code of conduct, no politician will prevent us from protecting human lives at sea."
He was speaking at a press conference on the island where rescue vessel Open Arms is waiting for permission to land 151 people in a nearby Italian port.
Mr Camps warned that the EU is sending African migrants back into the hands of human traffickers.
“A very biased opinion trend is being created … for international waters belong to everyone,” he said. He explained that international maritime law does not speak of immigrants but of “lives in danger.”
Mr Camps explained there were four minors and three pregnant women on board the ship and they required urgent assistance after being rescued at sea.
But Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has consolidated his “closed ports” policy by introducing legislation that sees NGOs fined as much as €1 million (£0.93m) for bringing migrants ashore.
He mocked the Open Arms ship’s efforts and took aim at US actor Richard Gere, who spent time on board in a bid to raise awareness of the plight of stranded migrants.
Mr Salvini said he expected the Pretty Woman star would “tan a little” during his time on the boat.
“Since his NGO friends have 180 immigrants on board, I am sure the generous millionaire will receive them all in his villas. Am I wrong?” he said.
“Why can’t these poor migrants be taken to Ibiza and Formentera? So, at least they will take advantage [of the trip] and have fun.”
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