The migrants, including 12 minors, were rescued on Monday off the coast of Libya by the Italian humanitarian group Mediterranea Saving Humans.

In this file photo, migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, carrying 47 migrants, comes into dock at the Sicilian port of Catania, southern Italy, on January 31, 2019.
In this file photo, migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, carrying 47 migrants, comes into dock at the Sicilian port of Catania, southern Italy, on January 31, 2019. (AP Archive)

Italy's hard-line interior minister is once again refusing to allow migrants rescued at sea by humanitarian groups to disembark in Italy.

Matteo Salvini told Sky TG24 on Tuesday that the 49 migrants aboard the Mare Jonio "can be treated, dressed and fed. We can give them every manner of comfort, but they will not set foot in Italy."

The migrants, including 12 minors, were rescued on Monday off the coast of Libya by the Italian humanitarian group Mediterranea Saving Humans.

The Jonio sailed to Italy's southernmost island Lampedusa, where it was flanked by the Italian coast guard and finance police boats.

The mayor of Lampedusa, Toto Martello, is challenging Salvini's assertion that Italian ports are closed. 

Martello said that more than 3,000 migrants arrived in Lampedusa last year on smuggler's boats.

Source: AP