Second rescue boat heading to Lampedusa in potential new stand-off with Rome

Departing interior minister Matteo Salvini imposed a closed-ports policy to migrants

Migrants arrive from Lampedusa at the Centre for Temporary Assistance to Foreigners (CATE), disembarking from the Spanish military ship "Audaz" in the port of Algeciras in Campamento near San Roque on August 30, 2019.  / AFP / JORGE GUERRERO
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A second migrant rescue boat is heading towards the south Italian island of Lampedusa, potentially leading to another stand-off with Italian authorities.

Italy's departing interior minister Matteo Salvini has imposed a closed-ports policy in the past year to curb illegal immigration from North Africa, calling for other European countries to share responsibility for refugees.

The Alan Kurdi boat, operated by the German Sea-Eye charity, will remain outside Italian territorial waters and is still waiting for instructions, a witness on board said on Saturday.

The boat is named after a Syrian boy, 3, who drowned in the Mediterranean four years ago.

On Saturday, the boat rescued 13 migrants from a small wooden craft in the Mediterranean, 63 kilometres south-west of Lampedusa.

The migrants, all young men in good health, said they were from Tunisia.

Another boat, the Mare Jonio, operated by Italian charity Mediterranea Saving Humans, is stuck off Lampedusa with 34 migrants on board.

This week Rome agreed to allow women, children and sick people on board the Mare Jonio to disembark through a transfer operated by coastguards, but refused to lift its ban on the ship entering Italian waters.