The Latest: Migrant ship moves closer to Italian island
MILAN (AP) — The Latest on migrants and asylum-seekers in Europe (all times local):
The German humanitarian group Sea Watch says its rescue ship has moved closer to the Italian island of Lampedusa in a bid to make it easy to disembark the 42 rescued migrants it is carrying.
Spokesman Ruben Neugebauer said they have not received the OK to transfer the passengers to land. But the captain again informed authorities of the necessity for a quick resolution to the standoff before repositioning the Sea-Watch 3 closer to a potential port. Financial police vessels asked the captain to turn off the engines, which she did.
Neugebauer said that ship is now drifting between 1 and 3 nautical miles offshore.
Sea-Watch has expressed concerns about the psychological conditions of the 42 migrants, among 53 rescued from a rubber dinghy in international waters off Libya 15 days ago.
The EU’s top migration official is urging Italy to help ensure that 42 migrants aboard a private rescue ship stuck off Italy can be taken ashore on the island of Lampedusa as soon as possible.
Migration Commissioner Dmitris Avramopoulos says some EU member countries stand ready to help, but a solution can only be found for the migrants once they’re on land.
Avramopoulos said in a statement Thursday that “I hope that Italy, in this particular incident, will contribute to a swift resolution for the persons onboard.”
The Sea-Watch 3 ship, run by a German aid group, defied Italian authorities Wednesday by entering the country’s waters and docking in Lampedusa.
There has been no sign that the migrants, said to have been suffering in unsafe conditions, would be allowed off.
A German humanitarian rescue ship with 42 rescued migrants onboard remains anchored off Italy’s southernmost island of Lampedusa as a stand-off with Italy continues.
Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini is refusing to let the migrants set foot in the country. He said the Sea-Watch crew defied a ban to enter Italian waters and should be arrested.
Sea-Watch said on Twitter Thursday that the ship entered Italian waters out of necessity. It said the Italian coast guard and customs officials had boarded the ship, adding: “We waited one night. We cannot wait another. Desperation of people in need is nothing to gamble with.”
The ship had picked up the migrants off Libya two weeks ago.
Salvini is putting pressure on the European Commission to come up with a solution.