Spanish charity wants to disembark rescued migrants in Italy or Malta

Barcelona (AFP) –


A Spanish migrant charity demanded Monday that EU nations agree to take in 121 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean so they can initially disembark in either Italy or Malta.

Proactiva Open Arms founder Oscar Camps called for a similar solution as that found for 40 migrants rescued by the Alan Kurdi ship run by Sea-Eye, another rescue charity. They arrived on Sunday after a deal was reached to distribute them to other European countries.

"We have to disembark these people here. Italy, Malta or the European Union itself must work to find a solution because the rights of these people are being violated," Camps told AFP by telephone from Rome.

"It would be desirable if the same thing was done as with the Alan Kurdi, that an agreement is reached so that seven or eight countries coordinate to distribute the people who were rescued at sea," he added.

Camps ruled out bringing the rescued migrants to Spain as the Barcelona-based NGO has done in the past.

The charity's ship, the Open Arms, is currently about 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of the Italian island of Lampedusa with 121 people on board whom it rescued last week from two migrant boats off the coast of Libya while it awaits permission to dock at a nearby port.

Camps said Malta has ignored its request to dock and unload its passengers while Italy only allowed two pregnant women and the sister of one of the women to be evacuated to the country for medical reasons.

The 121 migrants still on board, including two babies and another 30 minors, need "medical and psychiatric assistance," he said.

"There were victims of a lot of violence, or torture, rape, of all sorts of atrocities which you can imagine take place in the irregular detention camps that exist in Libya," he added.

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has insisted since coming to power in June 2018 that rescued migrants can land in Italy only if an agreement is already in place with other European countries to look after them.