CATANIA, Sicily – An Italian coast guard vessel has docked in Sicily with more than 900 migrants aboard, evidence that Italy’s new anti-migrant government is still taking in some asylum-seekers but is forcing the rest of Europe to accept others.
Crew aboard the Diciotti began disembarking passengers in Catania’s port early Wednesday. At the same time, the Aquarius vessel of the aid group SOS Mediterranee continued its dayslong westward voyage to Spain, where it was rerouted after Italy and Malta refused it entry.
The fates of the two ships are evidence of the policy shift by Italy’s new populist government: refuse entry to rescue ships of European-flagged aid groups, but allow Italian maritime vessels in its ports.
The shift has heightened tensions in Europe, with France accusing Italy of “cynical” and irresponsible behavior.