Italy urges German NGO to take 65 rescued migrants to Tunisia

The Sea-Watch non-governmental organisation (NGO) picked up the migrants on Wednesday.

“There are 15 children among them, including eight without their parents and two babies,’’ a spokesman said.

“The ship is respecting an injunction order not to enter Italian territorial waters and has received directions to head towards Tunisia,’’ Italian ministry sources said.

Earlier, interior minister and deputy premier Matteo Salvini ruled out softening his anti-NGO stance, dismissing Sea-Watch as “traffickers, not rescuers.’’

“They want to reach Italy at all costs. Italian ports are and will remain closed for traffickers of human beings,’’ he said in a statement.

On Twitter, Sea-Watch said conditions on board were “a cause of great concern,’’ with many migrants suffering “from sea sickness’’ and at risk of dehydration.

“Furthermore, A woman with burns needs medical treatment. Children are traumatised by remaining in Libyan prisons and risk further psychological harm,’’ the charity wrote.

Salvini, who leads the far-right League party, argued that a tough stance on migration is necessary to discourage illegal immigration from Africa.