Italian coastguard ship with rescued migrants to dock in Sicily

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By Daniel Bellamy  with Reuters
Italian coastguard ship with rescued migrants to dock in Sicily

Italy says its coastguard ship Diciotti that rescued 177 migrants will now dock in the Sicilian port of Catania after five days at sea.

The fate of the migrants however is still not clear - Italy has insisted it will not let them on its soil.

More than 650,000 migrants, most of them refugees, have made it to Italy since 2014.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly said his country "will no longer be Europe's refugee camp." On Sunday he said that if no one took them in Italy would return the 177 migrants to Libya.

The European Commission has said it's working on a solution to share out the migrants aboard the Diciotti across the EU.

Flows across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy have tapered off as Libyan factions cracked down on people smugglers, and the EU bolstered its support for the Libyan coast guard.

But no countries have yet agreed to take even some of them in and the EU cannot force any of its states to do so.

The nearest state, Malta, said the migrants had refused its aid because they wanted to reach Italy.

On Sunday, Italy's transport minister Danilo Toninelli said the small island nation should be sanctioned for not rescuing them.