Italy’s new populist Government has taken a tough stance on illegal immigration and has refused to allow a ship to dock in Italian waters, that currently holds over 600 migrants.
It is thought on board there are 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women.
The minors are aged between 13 and 17 and come from Eritrea, Ghana, Nigeria and Sudan, according to a journalist on the ship, Anelise Borges.
“Most of them are sleeping outside. They are obviously exhausted, they have been exposed to the elements, they have been at sea for 20 to 30 hours prior to their rescue,” she told the BBC.
The boat has been stranded between Malta and the Italian island of Sicily since Sunday. Italy is the main entry for migrants crossing from North Africa to Europe.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s hardline interior minister and leader of the anti-immigration League party, called on the country to “close the ports” and pledged Sunday to “STOP the filthy business of illegal immigration.”