Italy backs down on plans to send the first boat to Libya

Italy backs down on 3 migrant ships, 4th heads to Corsica as EU tries to bring closure on the Mediterranean

ISTANBUL

The Italian government has backed down on plans to send the first boats to bring 3,500 migrants back to Libya, saying it would send the 4th vessel.

The Italian minister for immigration and European integration said the “first boat” will remain in the Mediterranean to try to take as many migrants from the central Mediterranean last weekend as possible.

However, Italy is understood to be re-evaluating the original route and the “first boat” may now return to the port of Trapani on Sicily, which was seen as the preferred option.

The government had originally said it expected the 4th boat to return to Italy from Tunisia, where it had docked after setting sail from Turkey early on Sunday morning.

The new decision could still involve taking the ship back to Italy, but is likely to involve sending an international rescue ship instead, an Italian official said.

The Libyan coast guard had said the fourth boat had entered their territory, and would be searched before authorities returned it to the sea.

The ship had set sail from Tunisia at the end of April, according to the International Organisation for Migrants’ Protection in Greece.

The rescue operation was called off on May 3 after just over a dozen crew and passengers were rescued, and Italian authorities said they were taking the migrants back to Tunisia on the 3rd of May, but had since made changes to the original plan.

The 3rd boat will take back 4,500 migrants, while the remaining 2,200 will be returned to Libyan ports.

Many of the migrants from the first and second boats remain missing, and it is not known if they are still alive.

“We have decided to take the 4th boat. We have to take the last boat back to Tunisia,” the Italian prime minister, Matteo

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