Italy stands firm as two migrant rescue ships seek safe harbour
The Italian Coastguard agreed to take a heavily pregnant woman off a Spanish charity rescue ship in the Mediterranean, but the future remains uncertain for more than 120 others.
The migrants were picked up from two rafts by the Barcelona-based non-profit organisation Open Arms on Thursday.
Open Arms says the Italian Government is threatening to seize the vessel and issue a €50,000 fine if it enters Italian waters.
The group says the boat is heading north in search of a safe port.
Meanwhile, another standoff is unfolding off Malta. The German rescue ship, the Alan Kurdi, has appealed to Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to intervene after it was refused permission to disembark on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The charity Sea-Eye rescued 40 migrants from an overcrowded rubber dinghy, 29 nautical miles off Libya, on Wednesday.
Sea-Eye says torture victims are among the rescued migrants as well as survivors of the bombing of a Libyan detention camp, which killed about 50 people three weeks ago.
Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini has hit out at other European countries, saying they are treating Italy as their refugee camp.
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