The Latest: Migrant aid group refuses to sail to Spain

The Latest: Migrant aid group refuses to sail to Spain
A Ministry of Health worker takes photos of migrants on the deck of the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat off the coast of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Sunday, Aug.18, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Gentico)

ROME (AP) — The Latest on migration issues in Europe (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

A spokeswoman for Spanish humanitarian group Open Arms has told The Associated Press that the organization is not willing to sail to Spain’s southern Algeciras port given the emergency situation that they are experiencing on the boat.

Open Arms spokeswoman, Laura Lanuza, said the situation aboard the boat is “absolutely unsustainable.”

She said that “there is anxiety, bouts of violence, control is becoming increasingly difficult. To embark on a six-day sailing (trip) with these people on board who are at the very limit of their possibilities would be crazy. We can’t put their health and lives at risk.”


2:20 p.m.

Frustrated on their 17th day aboard a Spanish humanitarian rescue boat, at least four migrants, wearing life vests, jumped into the sea to try to swim to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Several crew members from the Open Arms charity boat dove and swam to stop the migrants and bring them back aboard.

For days, Open Arms has been anchored about 300 yards off Lampedusa, while Italy’s anti-migrant interior minister refuses docking permission. Open Arms released a video Sunday of the attempt to swim to land.

In the last days, 40 migrants were taken ashore from Open Arms because they were ailing, psychologically tired or minors, leaving 107 aboard Sunday morning.

Open Arms founder Oscar Camps tweeted a video of the attempt to swim to shore, saying: “We have been warning for days, desperation has its limits.”

Spain on Sunday offered a port for Open Arms. But Open Arms didn’t immediately say if they would sail to Spain.


1:15 p.m.

Seeking to end a humanitarian crisis, Spain says a Spanish rescue boat with 107 migrants in the southern Mediterranean can sail to Spain and disembark its passengers in Algeciras.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Sunday told the Open Arms ship to leave Italian waters and go to Spain. Salvini contends that Open Arms is anchored off the southern island of Lampedusa “just to provoke me and Italy.”

The boat’s crew says conditions on the ship are “miserable” 17 days since it rescued people off Libya. Six EU countries say they’ll take the migrants in, but Salvini hasn’t let the ship dock.

The Open Arms didn’t immediately say if would go to Spain, several days’ sailing away. The group says Salvini is using the 107 migrants for “xenophobic and racist propaganda.”