BRUSSELS (AP): An Italian lawmaker says rescued migrants stuck aboard an Italian coast guard ship are starting a hunger strike. Opposition Sen. Davide Faraone, who visited the migrants a day earlier on the Diciotti, tweeted on Friday that Catania port officials told him “there’s tension” on the ship, and that migrants have stopped eating out of frustration the Italian government won’t let them disembark.
Rescued on Aug. 16 in the Mediterranean Sea, 150 migrants are still on the ship after minors and the sick were allowed off in recent days. Sky TG24 TV said some women aboard ate lunch Friday but the men refused the meal. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini says other European Union nations must pledge to take the migrants before they can disembark. Most of the migrants are Eritrean.
The European Union is warning Italy to refrain from issuing threats in the continuing migrant crisis after a prominent government member said that Rome could withhold part of its EU payments. EU Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein said Friday that “the European Union is a community of rules and it operates on the basis of rules, not threats.”
Italy has barred from port some ships with migrants picked up at sea over what it says is sluggishness of other countries to help out. One already-docked ship carrying about 150 is now banned from disembarking adults. Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said the government could curtail its EU contributions if no solution is found. Winterstein called on “all parties involved to work constructively together to find a swift solution.”