The Spanish government has offered the port of Algeciras to the Open Arms rescue ship, still carrying 107 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, as Italian ports remain closed to sea rescue NGOs. However, it will take the ship about six days to get there.
After 17 days stranded in the sea, and with worsening health conditions that forced several evacuations in the last days, the Catalan NGO announced on Saturday that it could no longer guarantee the safety of the people on board.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and leader of the far-right Lega party, has accused Open Arms of human trafficking and refused to offer a safe harbour – a decision that caused a major row with head of the Italian government Giuseppe Conte.
‘Due to the inconceivable response from Italian authorities, especially from interior minister Matteo Salvini, to close all ports, and the difficulties by other countries in the central Mediterranean, Spain is once again leading the response to a humanitarian crisis,’ said Spanish acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez via Twitter on Sunday.
Sánchez offered the port of Algeciras, Spain’s southernmost port. According to Spanish media, it would take about six days for the Open Arms to get there.
On Sunday, Open Arms lifeguards rescued several migrants who jumped off the ship and tried to swim to the coast of Lampedusa.