The Open Arms rescue ship arrives on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. Italian prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio has ordered the seizure of a migrant rescue ship and the immediate evacuation of more than 80 migrants remaining on board, capping dramatic developments that saw 15 migrants jump into the sea in a desperate bid to reach land and the Spanish government dispatch a Naval ship on a long journey to resolve the escalating crisis. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)

The Latest: NGO: migrants need access to safe Europe ports

August 21, 2019 - 7:14 am

MADRID (AP) — The Latest on the European migrant crisis (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Doctors Without Borders is calling on Europe to urgently find a solution to the repeated stand-offs barring humanitarian rescue ships carrying migrants from the nearest safe ports.

The non-governmental organization on Wednesday welcomed the arrival of Open Arms with more than 80 migrants in Lampedusa — but said that the ship it operates with, the SOS Mediterranee, remains blocked at sea with 356 "vulnerable men, women and children."

The Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, which is operated by two French humanitarian groups, completed four rescues from Aug. 9-12, and has been on standby in international waters about 32 nautical miles from European shores between Malta and the Italian island of Linosa since Aug. 15.

SOS Mediteranee head of mission, Nick Romaniuk, told Italian daily La Repubblica that the situation on board remained under control, "but we cannot resist forever."


12:15 P.M.

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo says a navy ship will stay close to an Italian island in case a group of migrants disembarked there need to be transported to Spain in coming days.

More than 80 people were evacuated from the Open Arms aid ship Tuesday after being blocked for 19 days from entering Lampedusa by the country's anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Minutes before a prosecutor ordered the seizure of the ship, Spain had dispatched the ship Audaz to accompany the Open Arms to a Spanish port.

The Audaz is currently conducting drills and ready to transport an undisclosed number of migrants that Spain had promised to take in as part of a distribution agreement with five more European countries, Calvo told Cadena SER radio Wednesday.

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