Gere on Saturday called on the Italian government to help a group of migrants who have been stranded on a Spanish charity boat in the Mediterranean for more than a week.
The A-lister, who visited the Open Arms ship in a show of support on Friday, joined a news conference on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa to call for the 160 migrants stuck on the boat to be allowed to disembark.
He compared the political situation in Italy, where Salvini has repeatedly blocked the nation’s ports to migrant rescue ships, to that of the US administration of Donald Trump.
“We have our problems with refugees coming from Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico... it’s very similar to what you are going through here,” he said, accusing politicians in both Italy and the US of demonising migrants.
“This has to stop everywhere on this planet now. And it will stop if we say stop,” he said, adding that his aim was to help and not get into a political fight.
Salvini, who last week pushed through parliament a decree which would mean charity rescue boats bringing migrants to Italy without permission could face fines of up to €1 million, was quick to reply.
“Given this generous millionaire is voicing concern for the fate of the Open Arms migrants, we thank him: he can take back to Hollywood, on his private plane, all the people aboard and support them in his villas. Thank you Richard!” he said in a statement.
The Open Arms has been in limbo since Malta and Italy rejected requests to disembark there.
Spain’s government accepted the Acquarius rescue boat last year following a similar standoff but has since hardened its position, saying that the Open Arms should look for a closer port.
Last week, the European Union’s executive called on member states to show solidarity and find a solution for the boat.
On Sunday, three of the stranded migrants were allowed to disembark in Italy and receive medical treatment for what is believed to be tuberculosis.