The Latest: Sea rescue group says Malta will take 44 ashore
ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s response to mass migration (all times local):
German humanitarian group Sea-Eye says the crew of its ship rescued 44 people from a wooden boat in the Mediterranean Sea.
The sea rescue group says its ship, the Alan Kurdi, picked the boat passengers up on Monday “in cooperation with Maltese authorities.”
Sea-Eye’s ship last week rescued 65 African migrants who were allowed to go to Malta, where the government has sometimes resisted giving rescue ships permission to enter island nation’s ports.
The German aid group says a Maltese navy ship would also be taking the people rescued Monday ashore.
Morocco’s state-run news agency has reported that 271 migrants on 18 makeshift boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe were rescued over the weekend.
A Moroccan military official told The Associated Press on Monday that the rescued passengers included 23 women and three unaccompanied minors who were in distress.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
With the sea route from Libya to Italy increasingly blocked by Libyan coast guard crews as part of a deal with the European Union, Morocco has become a major departure point for African migrants trying to reach Europe.
Authorities in Morocco reported that a Royal Navy vessel rescued another 330 migrants Friday trying to cross the Strait of Gibraltar in unseaworthy boats.
Moroccan authorities say about 25,000 migrants trying to reach Spain have been stopped so far this year.
—By Amira El Masaiti in Rabat
Pope Francis has prayed for migrants in a special Mass, saying they are people and not just a social issue.
The Mass, celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday, marked the sixth anniversary of the pope’s visit to the Italian island of Lampedusa on July 8, 2013.
Francis had been pope for only four months when he made the surprise visit, his first pastoral visit outside Rome.
The island, halfway between Sicily and the North African coast, has become one of the main European points of entry for migrants and refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
The pope said “they are persons. These are not mere social or migrant issues. They are the symbol of all those rejected by today’s globalized society.”