Spain offers port to Open Arms migrant vessel

The ship is currently carrying 107 rescued migrants who have been on board for 17 days  

The migrants have been stranded on the ship for 18 days
The migrants have been stranded on the ship for 18 days

The Spanish government has offered a port for the disembarkation of 107 migrants currently stranded off Lampedusa.

The migrants are on board the NGO-operated ship Open Arms, having been rescued from the Mediterranean 17 days ago.

The announcement was made by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who said in a tweet, that Spain was willing to offer the port of Algecricas.

“I have directed the port of Algeciras to be ready to receive the Open Arms. Spain always takes action in the face of humanitarian emergencies,” Sanchez said.

He insisted that it was “necessary to establish a European solution that is orderly and based on solidarity” for dealing with the challenge posed by irregular migration across the Mediterranean.

Sanchez said that Italian Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini’s reaction to the latest stand-off had been “inconceivable” and that his decision to close all ports had created a humanitarian crisis which Spain was being forced to take responsibility of.

Open Arms president Roberto Gatti, said it would take the ship seven days to reach the port and it was unlikely that it would be able to travel that far, given the current conditions on board.

Earlier today, four migrants who were on board the vessel jumped into the sea and attempted to swim to shore.

Italy has maintained its policy of keeping its ports closed to NGO ships placing a greater burden on the remaining Mediterranean member states, especially Malta.

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The latest migrant standoff has seen Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte clash with Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini – the driving force behind Italy’s policy.

Yesterday, Salvini made a partial concession to let 27 children on the Open Arms to be disembarked in Lampedusa, the nearest safe port to the location where the migrants were rescued. In a letter, Salvini told Conte he could authorise the "alleged" minors to leave the Open Arms ship, despite it being contrary to his policy. 

On Friday, France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg said they were willing to help relocate the migrants.

While the ship was allowed into Italian waters after a judge overturned a ban issued by Salvini, only the 27 children were allowed to disembark.

The Ocean Viking, a vessel operated by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee remains stranded with 300 rescued migrants on board.

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