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Italy says Netherlands is responsible for fate of migrants stranded at sea

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By Mark Armstrong
Italy says Netherlands is responsible for fate of migrants stranded at sea
Copyright  REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane   -   Falco, Salvatore

The Italian Interior Minister says the Netherlands is responsible for what happens to migrants onboard a rescue ship flying under the Dutch flag.

The Sea Watch 3 is owned by a German charity and has been in international waters since June 12 waiting for somewhere to dock. In a tweet, Matteo Salvini said he's incredulous that the Dutch Interior Minister, Kajsa Ollongren, appeared to take no interest in the vessel.

Salvini said the boat can't dock in Italy, which closed its ports to charity ships operating in the Mediterranean Sea in June 2018. He said if the captain of the ship does not respect the ban imposed by Italian authorities, the vessel could be seized and face a fine of up to 50,000 euros.

Since Italy tightened its rules, Malta has spearheaded EU efforts to share migrants rescued at sea in the region.

On Sunday a group of 37 arrived in the island's capital Valletta.

They were rescued from a rubber dinghy by a Maltese patrol boat after calling a rescue support service for refugees in distress at sea earlier that morning.

The migrants had journeyed from Pakistan, Nepal, Sudan and Syria. The group disembarked at the maritime base in Pieta on the outskirts of the city. They were all reported to be in good physical condition.

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