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Rome refuses to let migrants rescued by its own coastguard onto Italian soil

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Rome refuses to let migrants rescued by its own coastguard onto Italian soil

Migrants on board Italian coastguard ship docked in Catania, Sicily
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After five days at sea Italy directed its own coastguard ship the Diciotti to dock in Sicily.

The 177 migrants it had rescued in the Mediterranean Sea are no longer in danger - instead they're now political pawns in Europe's migration disputes.

Italy's right wing anti-migrant government won't allow them to touch Italian soil.

Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter "Now Europe must hurry to do its part."

Brussels says it's talking with EU states, but so far none of them have publicly offered to take even some of the migrants in.

Many are believed to be bona fide refugees from Eritrea and Somalia, which were once Italian colonies.

After more than 650,000 arrivals on Italian shores since 2014, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly said the country "will no longer be Europe's refugee camp."

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