The US Navy has not received instructions on where to take the dozens of migrants it rescued off the Libyan coast earlier this week. Italy's far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini has vowed to stop foreign boats carrying migrants from arriving in Italy.
The United States Navy is still waiting for instructions on where to take the 40 migrants it saved off the Libyan coast on Tuesday. The exact location of the navy vessel was also unknown, a spokesperson for the UNHCR told German press agency dpa on Friday. "Nothing is known as of yet", the UN Migration Agency IOM confirmed. There is apparently no official communication or coordination with the Italian Coast Guard.
The USNS Trenton rescued up 40 migrants in distress that it encountered while conducting routine operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The crew also found 12 bodies at sea, but the spokeswoman of the US Naval Forces Europe-Africa said these bodies were not recovered, conflicting with early reports that said bodies were initially recovered and thrown back into the water.
The US Navy requested that the German-flagged NGO vessel take up the survivors. The organization refused as it was not given written assurances from Italy that the migrants could be taken to an Italian port. The Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has vowed to stop foreign boats carrying migrants from arriving in Italy.
This is not the first time that Italy has either not guaranteed or refused entry to migrants from an international ship this week. The country blocked the Aquarius, packed with hundreds of migrants, from docking on its shores earlier this week. The French-flagged vessel received permission to dock in Spain, where it is estimated to arrive on Saturday.
Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesperson for the IOM, criticized the quagmire surrounding the ships.
"This situation must be solved. Survivors of shipwrecks are extremely vulnerable, traumatized and in need of immediate help. To wait a long time is not an option," wrote Di Giacomo in a tweet.
Traveling by boat from Libya to Italy is a highly frequented, but dangerous route migrants take to reach Europe. More than 15,000 migrants have died or gone missing trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea since the beginning of 2014.