The Latest: 9 migrants let off rescue boat at Italian isle

International News

A migrant reads verses of the Quran aboard the Open Arms Spanish humanitarian boat as it arrives near Lampedusa coast in the Mediterranean Sea, Thursday, Aug.15, 2019. A Spanish aid boat with 147 rescued migrants aboard is anchored off a southern Italian island as Italy’s ministers spar over their fate. (AP Photo/Francisco Gentico)

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ROME (AP) — The Latest on immigration in Europe (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

Authorities have allowed nine people to disembark from a Spanish humanitarian boat on an Italian island, but the 138 other migrants aren’t being allowed to get off.

The Open Arms boat tweeted Thursday night that five migrants received the OK to disembark for “psychological” reasons and four of their family members were allowed off, too, at the dock on Lampedusa island.

But two weeks after Open Arms began rescuing the migrants from smugglers’ unseaworthy boats in Libyan waters, Open Arms says, “we continue to not have authorization to disembark the others.”

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has been stopping private rescue boats from disembarking migrants on Italian shores.

Spain and five other European nations agreed Thursday to take them, but Salvini said he wasn’t budging.


3:15 p.m.

Portugal says it has offered to take in 10 of the 147 migrants stuck aboard the Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms as part of a group of six European nations working on a way out of the deadlock.

Two weeks after rescuing the migrants from smugglers’ unseaworthy boats, the vessel is anchored in the Mediterranean near the Italian island of Lampedusa waiting for permission to disembark.

France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg have pledged to “extend a hand,” Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday in a sharp rebuke to his anti-migrant interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has tried to block the ship’s docking.

A joint statement from the Portuguese interior and foreign affairs ministries on Thursday said the government’s move to receive the potential asylum-seekers reflected “a common desire to provide European solutions to the issue of migration.”

Since the beginning of 2018, Portugal has received 132 people rescued by several boats in the Mediterranean, the statement added.


2:35 p.m.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says six European nations are willing to take the 147 migrants stranded on a Spanish humanitarian boat off Italy.

In a sharp rebuke Thursday to his anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Conte said that France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg will all “extend a hand.” He posted the note in an open letter to Salvini on Facebook.

Two weeks after rescuing the migrants from smugglers’ unseaworthy boats, Open Arms is anchored in the Mediterranean near the Italian island of Lampedusa.

With his populist coalition near collapse, Conte warned Salvini that his defiance in blocking the migrants from disembarking is “disloyal collaboration, the latest to tell the truth, that I cannot accept.”

Salvini’s right-wing League party has lodged a no-confidence vote against Conte. Salvini wants to force an early election and win the premiership.


10:20 a.m.

A humanitarian boat carrying 147 migrants rescued at sea was anchored in choppy waters Thursday near a southern Italian island while the country’s interior and defense ministers sparred over its fate, reflecting Italy’s escalating political crisis.

Two weeks after rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms entered Italian territorial waters after an Italian court overruled a ban on it by right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. He responded by renewing his ban against Open Arms entering Italian waters and docking at the island of Lampedusa to disembark its passengers, but Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta refused to countersign it.

The sharp squabbling between Salvini, who leads the anti-migrant League party, the populist government’s junior partner, and Trenta, who is from the 5-Star Movement, the senior coalition party, reflects exploding political tensions that have put Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s 14-month-old government on the verge of collapse

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