The two ships are German rescuers, Lifeline, carrying 234 people and 17 crew off Libya offshore on Thursday; and cargo ship operated by Danish company Maersk carrying 113 other immigrants from Libya offshore on Friday.
Both ships have been banned from docking in Italy and Malta, while those countries encourage other Europeans to accept immigrants trapped.
Tension comes weeks after Italy and Malta rejected another rescue ship, Aquarius, carrying 600 immigrants. After two days of vacillating in the Mediterranean, immigrants were accepted by the Spaniards, revealing a new hard policy from the interior minister and leader of the anti-immigration party Matteo Salvini.
Salvini did not seem to soften his sternness. Last week, he warned the Dutch-flagged vessel operated by German non-governmental organization Lifeline, currently trapped in the Mediterranean with 200 immigrants, not to dock in Italy.
“You (Lifeline) show off your strength by challenging the indications of the Italian and Libyan coast guard, now you should bring these people to the Netherlands,” Salvini said via Facebook’s live broadcast from his office.
On Sunday, Lifeline responded to Salvini via Twitter. “Dear Matteo Salvini, we do not carry flesh on the ship, just human, we ask you to convince yourself that these are the people we saved not to drown.”
Italy also rejected the Maersk cargo ship carrying more than 100 immigrants and was in the south of Sicily to dock. This was done even though the rescue was made at the request of the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center,
The cargo ship was previously on the way between Libya and Malta, the spokesman said. “Now the ship is denied anchored and the company awaits further instructions from the authorities.
The ship was about three nautical miles from the port of Pozzallo in Sicily, said Italian Coast Guard spokesman Commander Cosimo Nicastro. He said that 113 immigrants had been rescued, five of whom were brought ashore on medical grounds, including an eight months pregnant mother and little girl.