Not all migrants 'skeletons escaping war, famine' - Salvini

Not all migrants are wraiths who fled war and famine in their homelands, Italy's hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini said on Thursday after some 50 rescued migrants vanished from a reception centre in Rocca Di Papa outside Rome.

"More than 50 migrants who came ashore from the Diciotti and who were so in need for protection, food and shelter that they decided to leg it," Salvini said.

Salvini was referring to the Italian coastguard vessel that rescued 177 migrants in August who were stranded aboard the ship for 10 days after he refused to allow them to disembark at the Sicilian port of Catania unless the European Union agreed to take most of them.

"It's the umpteenth confirmation that not all those who arrive in Italy are skeletons who escaped from war and hunger," Salvini said.

The migrants who went missing were among 100 migrants that the Catholic Church agreed to house in parishes around Italy. Ireland and Albania said they would take 20 each who were stuck aboard the Diciotti.

Sicilian prosecutors said last month they were probing Salvini and his chief of staff Matteo Piantedosi for kidnapping in order to coerce, illegal detention, abuse of office and negligence over the Diciotti standoff.

Salvini claims only a small minority of migrants are genuine refugees and asylum-seekers and has vowed to deport half a million illegal immigrants.