Six EU countries offer to take in Open Arms migrants

Italian Prime Minister tells Matteo Salvini that France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg are willing to take in the 147 migrants stranded on the Open Arms

Six countries have offered to take in the 147 migrants stranded upon the Open Arms in Italian waters (Photo: Proactiva Open Arms Facebook)
Six countries have offered to take in the 147 migrants stranded upon the Open Arms in Italian waters (Photo: Proactiva Open Arms Facebook)

Six EU countries have offered to take in the rescued migrants currently stranded in the Mediterranean aboard the Open Arms in Italian territorial waters, the Italy’s Prime Minister has said.

The NGO ship, carrying 147 migrants, has been at sea for almost two weeks, after Italy’s far-right interior minster and deputy premier Matteo Salvini issued a second decree banning the ship from entering Italian ports. Salvini’s decree was subsequently blocked by defence minister Elisabetta Trenta, who refused to sign it off.

In an open letter to Salvini, Conte said the migrants on board the Spanish-flagged Open Arms - which is operated by Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms - would be shared between France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg.

Earlier, Open Arms’ head Ricardo Gatti told Euronews that the migrants were in desperate need of disembarkation, and required an emergency medical evacuation.

"There are really critical conditions onboard as reported by our medical and psychological team, so we asked for permission to enter the national waters,” Gatti said, "Actually, now he have to ask again for permission to disembark.”

"We are sure that they will allow people to disembark, because the wellbeing of the people is critical and medical evacuation is needed. If they don't allow it, it makes it a very difficult situation for the Italian government,” he added.

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Last week, Malta offered to take 39 migrants aboard the Open Arms who had just been rescued, but refused to take another bigger group which had been saved from the waters days before. The NGO turned down the offer, deeming it unacceptable and saying it would cause a dangerous security situation on board.

Earlier this week, the UNHCR called on Europe to show solidarity with the over 500 migrants who are at sea on the Open Arms and aboard another NGO vessel, the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, operated by French NGOs SOS Méditerranée and MSF Sea (Doctors Without Borders).

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