Italy intensifies campaign against migrants by refusing access to merchant vessel involved in rescue

Italy’s populist government intensified its hardline stance against migrants by refusing, for the first time, to allow an Italian merchant ship to deliver a group of rescued asylum seekers to an Italian port.

The oil rig supply vessel picked up 66 migrants from the middle of the Mediterranean after they set out from the coast of Libya, as hundreds of thousands of others have done before them.

But instead of being allowed to bring the asylum seekers directly to Italian soil, as would have happened in the past, Rome insisted that they be transferred from the Vos Thalassa supply ship to an Italian coast guard vessel.