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Spain sends navy to rescue stranded migrants

Spain sends navy to rescue stranded migrants
Migrants leap into sea in hopes of swimming ashore to Lampedusa Island, Italy, after 19-day wait

By Beyza Binnur Donmez

ANKARA (AA) - Spain announced on Tuesday that it would send a navy vessel to collect more than 100 migrants from a rescue ship stranded off the Italian coast for 19 days.

"The vessel of the @Armada_esp [Spanish Navy] Audaz is ready to sail this afternoon to the island of Lampedusa and assist the #OpenArms and its occupants. It will join the boat to the port of Palma, in Mallorca," acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Twitter.

"With this measure Spain will solve, this week, the humanitarian emergency," Sanchez added.

The ruling Socialist Party said in a statement that the Spanish government believes sending a navy ship would be "the most appropriate option", according to local daily El Pais.

The report said the ship's journey to the Italian island, where the vessel owned by Proactiva Arms remains 800 meters (2,625 feet) offshore, would take three days, with medical staff and psychologists to be taken on board to treat the migrants as they were brought to Spain.

Earlier, Spanish rights group said that the migrants aboard the rescue ship were in a desperate situation and that some had jumped into the sea in the hopes of swimming to ashore.

"Night of panic and a man in water. The night began with urgent medical evacuation, and this morning a man jumped in the water, trying to reach the shore in front of our eyes," the group said, referring to the deteriorating conditions on board.

Those who jumped were rescued by the Italian coastguard.

Sanchez announced Sunday that the port of Algeciras was authorized to receive the charity vessel but that the offer was rejected by Open Arms as the migrants would be unable to handle another long trip.

The founder of Spain-based Open Arms, Oscar Camps insisted that Lampedusa Island is the only safe port for them.

Italy's right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had previously denied a safe port to the vessel but on Saturday he authorized children to leave the ship on the insistence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, according to local media reports.

Open Arms said 27 unaccompanied children were allowed to disembark on Lampedusa Island, while 26 others were allowed to leave the ship due to urgent medical needs.

The ship had rescued some 160 migrants in early August and has been waiting in the Mediterranean Sea to dock at a port.

More than 39,000 irregular migrants and refugees have reached Europe by sea since the beginning of 2019. As many as 840 died at sea, according to the International Organization for Migration.

More than 30,500 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while taking the treacherous journey to Europe, the IOM said in January.

source: News Feed
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