Dozens of cities, including Berlin and Rottenburg, have offered to take in migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. But German authorities have said resettling 53 migrants rescued by Sea-Watch would require EU support.
The German Interior Ministry has confirmed that it received formal requests from more than 50 municipalities to host migrants rescued in the Mediterranean by German NGO Sea-Watch, DPA news agency reported on Tuesday.
However, German authorities must first approve the requests before the migrants can be resettled in Germany. An Interior Ministry spokesman said that while a solution would not be ruled out, EU support was necessary.
Italian authorities have blocked the rescue vessel from entering territorial waters, saying attempts to do so would be met with strict fines.
On Wednesday, hard-line Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened to use new measures that allow his ministry to ban ships from entering territorial waters if deemed a threat to public security and order.
"This is the umpteenth time Sea-Watch, which is a real pirate ship, has done something like this," said Salvini. If Sea-Watch breaks the ban, it could be fined up to €50,000 ($56,000).
Human rights groups have criticized Salvini, who leads Italy's far-right League Party, for preventing rescue boats from docking at Italian ports, calling his approach a "repressive management of the migratory phenomenon."