Published: Tue, August 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Charity boat rejects Spain's offer to stranded migrants

Charity boat rejects Spain's offer to stranded migrants

Salvini renewed his attacks on Open Arms, accusing it of lying about the condition of the migrants.

"After. six medical evacuations and having told authorities about our situation without receiving an answer, we are in a situation of need and we can not guarantee the security of the 134 people onboard", Open Arms said.

France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg have said they will help relocate the migrants, but the reaction from Salvini's interior ministry has been sceptical.

Two weeks ago, Gere boarded the Open Arms to bring food and comfort the migrants.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez "today ordered the port of Algeciras to be ready to receive the boat Open Arms", which is now in limbo off the Italian island of Lampedusa, his office said in a statement.

Before Conte's announcement, Spain said it was working with other EU states and the European Commission to find a "common. and orderly solution", and was willing to "participate in a balanced distribution of migrants on board the ship".

On Sunday evening, Open Arms said it had urgently requested permission to enter Lampedusa's port so the migrants, aboard for 17 days, could finally get off.

Open Arms, a Spanish-based charity that undertakes sea rescues of those trying to reach Europe as they flee from war, persecution or poverty, accused Salvini of using the 107 migrants for "xenophobic and racist propaganda".

The NGO's director said on a video from the boat released on Saturday that there are constant fights on board and the tension is unsustainable.

"If your interior minister were to spend some time with those people, listened to their stories, their family traumas, he would change his outlook", the actor said in his Monday interview.

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Late Sunday, government sources in Madrid told AFP that the ship could go to "the closest Spanish port en route to (Spain's) territorial waters", which could be the Balearic Islands.

The following morning on Sunday, four migrants jumped into the sea and tried to swim to the Italian island of Lampedusa, located less than a kilometer away.

His League party has called for a vote of no confidence in the government in which it is junior coalition partner, believing it could triumph at snap elections.

Members of the rescue crew swam after them and were able to return them to the boat.

On Saturday, Salvini reluctantly agreed with Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte's demands to let the minors disembark.

The ship has been anchored within swimming distance of Lampedusa with 134 migrants on board since Thursday.

"The NGO incredibly refused with an attitude that makes us suspect bad faith on their part", he said.

After rejecting the offer to dock at Algeciras, Open Arms asked Italy to allow the migrants to disembark on Lampedusa, citing a deterioration in their physical and psychological conditions, it announced on Twitter.

Another humanitarian ship, the Ocean Viking, is holding its position between Lampedusa and Malta waiting for a safe port for the 356 rescued migrants on board.

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