UN refugee agency urges end to Italy migrant standoff

UN refugee agency urges end to Italy migrant standoff
Migrants aboard the Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti gather on the deck as they await decisions in the port of Catania, Italy, Friday, Aug. 24 2018. An Italian lawmaker says rescued migrants stuck aboard an Italian coast guard ship are starting a hunger strike. Rescued on Aug. 16 in the Mediterranean Sea, 150 migrants are still on the ship after minors and the sick were allowed off in recent days. (Orietta Scardino/ANSA via AP)

ROME (AP) — The United Nations’ refugee agency is imploring European Union countries to take responsibility for 150 migrants stranded aboard an Italian coast guard ship and urging Italy to let the migrants off the ship immediately.

The Diciotti rescued the migrants from a trafficker’s boat on Aug. 16. The ship has been docked in Sicily for days, and Italy’s government is refusing to let it disembark passengers unless other EU nations pledge to take them.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urged European countries in a statement Saturday “to do the right thing and offer places of asylum for people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea in their time of need.”

Grandi said from Geneva that it’s time to end “a race to the bottom on who can take the least responsibility for people rescued at sea.”