Updated | Salvini accuses Malta of giving fuel, urging migrants to Lampedusa

The Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, defined Malta's act of assisting migrants towards the Italian island as "hostile" and "mad"

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini

Maltese authorities gave fuel and compasses to migrants in the Mediterranean to help them reach the Italian island of Lampedusa. So claims Matteo Salvini, as tensions between the two countries on this contentious issue appear unabated.

Salvini, leader of the Italian right wing Lega movement, said that Italian authorities had called upon their Maltese counterparts to check upon a boat hosting up to 13 migrants in Maltese waters last Wednesday—said boat had reportedly ran out of fuel. However, the same boat showed up at Lampedusa on Friday with those rescued on board saying that they were assised by people at sea who wore uniforms "like those of the [Maltese] coastguard."

This was reported by Tgcom24, with Salvini saying that the migrants had allegedly been approached by a dinghy that passed out supplies: water, life jackets, a compass and two tanks of fuel. The dinghy escorted the migrant boat for an hour towards Italy before turning back.

Salvini took to Twitter and called the manouvre "crazy", that the EU refuses to bat its eyes to this issue while imposing sanctions on the risky Italian budget. This is not the first time that the Italian Deputy Prime Minister attacked Malta on this issue, arguing that Maltese authorities do not do their part when it comes to the migrant controversy. 

"Some EU member states don't care about migrants and dump them on us, hile Brussels keeps threatening sanctions on our budget: we will not be initimidated," he said.

Maltese Home Affairs Minister Michael Farrugia reacted to Salvini's vehement voice on Tgcom24 by writing a four-part Tweet. He urged the Italian Deputy Prime Minister to "stop this" and to allow Malta to do its duties. Farrugia likewise didn't hold back and accused Italy of constantly breaching conventions and shirking obligations in the Mediterranean. "Malta has done much more than what was expected, and disembarked migrants in Malta on humanitarian grounds due to Italy's systematic failure to provide any form of assistance to persons in distress," he said.