A migrant rescue boat docked at the port of Lampedusa on Saturday in defiance of a ban on entering Italian waters, the second NGO vessel to clash with Italian authorities in a week.
The sailboat Alex, carrying 41 migrants, declined a Maltese offer to go to Malta, as the Mediterranea NGO operating it said such a long journey would have been dangerous for the people aboard.
The boat docked at the same quay where a week ago another NGO vessel collided with an Italian police boat when it decided to let migrants disembark after two weeks in international waters.
“The migrants must be immediately disembarked and taken care of,” NGO Mediterranea said in a posting on Twitter.
But Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has banned rescue boats from docking at Italian ports without authorization, said Rome would not “yield to blackmail.”
“I’m not authorizing people who ignore Italian laws and help human traffickers to disembark,” Salvini, leader of the right-wing League, said in remarks published on Twitter.
Salvini said armed forces were ready to intervene.
Reporting by Valentina Za and Wladimir Pantaleone, Editing by William Maclean