ABOUT THE OPEN ARMS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN – A Spanish lifeboat harvested 60 migrants from a dinghy near Libya on Saturday near Libya, prompting Italy's die-hard interior minister to announce it immediately
The ship, operated by the Spanish humanitarian group Proactiva Open Arms, said it had rescued the migrants – including five women, a nine-year-old child and three teenagers – after discovering a patched dinghy with tape floating in the sea. All migrants seemed to be healthy.
Italian right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini reacted quickly, saying that the boat could "forget to arrive in an Italian port". He claimed that the boat should go to Malta, the nearest port. But Malta retreated quickly, its interior minister fought against the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily,
Salvini has sworn that in Italy, lifeboats will no longer support humanitarian groups. In recent years, private rescue ships have rescued many of the hundreds of thousands of smuggler boat migrants to Italy. On Saturday, Salvini claimed on Twitter that the Open Arms could intervene against the migrants facing a Libyan motorboat in Libya's search and rescue zone.
But the captain of the boat, Marco Martinez, said that he informed the Rome-based Maritime Rescue Coordination Center and was ordered to call Libyan maritime authorities who did not answer by phone or by radio. The captain said that the officials in Rome told him that it was up to him whether he wanted to carry out the rescue or not.
An AP journalist aboard an escort vessel reported that it was a Coast Guard boat. He watched him approach the open arms, but just as he approached the rescue, he turned around and left the Open Arms to return to Spain.
Malta's Interior Minister Michael Farrugia tweeted his reply back to Salvini. "Stop spreading false news and pull in Malta for no reason," he wrote, adding a map that, he said, was the salvation in Libya's search and rescue area and in the waters between Libya and Lampedusa
the last one, which highlighted the political tensions in the European Union over which countries should bear the burden of incoming asylum seekers.
Last week, the small Mediterranean island nation of Malta broke days of stalemate when it agreed to give a German group a safe haven lifeboat, lifeline ̵
While bickering politicians rescued by the open arms were jubilant and ecstatic, they jumped, sang and embraced their saviors.
The successful rescue on Saturday was observed by four Members of the European Parliament on a support ship, the branch, ral, for an observation mission. Legislators then went to the Open Arms with the AP journalist to meet the migrants and rescue workers.
One of the legislators, Javi Lopez, a Spaniard, said the authorities in Spain were investigating the possibility of accepting migrants because Malta and Italy did not provide a safe haven.
There was no immediate response from Spanish authorities. Proactiva Open Arms spokeswoman Laura Lanuza said the boats were heading north while negotiations with various authorities were continuing.
Earlier this month, Spain took in around 630 migrants aboard another lifeboat, the Aquarius, which spent days in the Mediterranean
Salvini and the leader of the other coalition government, Luigi Di Maio, took the humanitarian groups by taxi Services for traffickers stationed in largely lawless Libya.
Malta determines if the lifeline crew did not follow orders to rescue the migrants.
The day before, 100 migrants were missing on the Libyan coast after the Libyan Coast Guard rescued 16 survivors.
reported D & # 39; Emilio from Rome. Stephen Calleja contributed from Malta and Aritz Parra contributed to Madrid.