The Latest: New sea route keeps Spanish rescue crews busy
ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s response to mass migration (all times local):
Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it picked up 325 people over the weekend as they were attempting to cross a narrow stretch of the Mediterranean Sea from Northern Africa.
The rescue service reported that its crews rescued 175 migrants from four different boats in the Alboran Sea on Sunday and is bringing them to Almeria in southern Spain.
The service says another 150 people were found making the crossing on Saturday in five different boats, including a kayak.
The number of people reaching Europe by the so-called Western Mediterranean land and sea route to Spain has surpassed boat arrivals to Italy this year.
The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration says about 15,000 migrants have made it to Spain via the short but dangerous trip across the Strait of Gibraltar
Albania’s Defense Ministry says a warship deployed to the Aegean Sea as part of NATO’s maritime force has picked up a group of 41 Syrians who were trying to cross from Turkey to Greece.
A ministry statement issued Sunday said the crew of the patrol vessel Butrinti saw the Syrians, including 10 children and seven women, in a speedboat that was traveling from Turkey’s Cesme coastline to the nearby Greek island of Chios.
The group was transferred to a ship of the European Union’s border control force, Frontex, which directs a search-and-rescue operation in the Mediterranean with air and sea resources contributed from a variety of countries.
Albania, a NATO member since 2009, is taking part for the first time in the western military alliance’s maritime missions.
Italy’s hard-line interior minister says he wants to block foreign navy ships participating in European migrant rescue missions from docking in Italian ports.
Matteo Salvini, who has already closed Italian ports to aid groups that rescue migrants, says in a Facebook post Sunday that he will bring the Italian position to an upcoming meeting of EU interior ministers in Innsbruck, Austria.
The EU’s border control force, Frontex, operates a search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean using air and sea contributions from a variety of countries. On Saturday, the Irish navy ship Samuel Beckett arrived in the Sicilian port of Messina with 106 migrants.
Salvini wants to block future arrivals, forcing other European countries to take them in. He wrote: “With our government the music has changed and will change.”