The Latest: Spain rescues 300 migrants; 3 were on a kayak
MILAN (AP) — The Latest on migration into Europe (all times local):
Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says that nearly 300 African migrants have been rescued in two days trying to reach Europe’s southernmost shores, including three men who had spent the night at sea on a kayak.
Nearly 100 migrants from the kayak and two boats were taken to the southern Spanish port of Algeciras, a spokesman from the service who wasn’t authorized to be quoted by name told The Associated Press.
A third boat with water leaks was carrying 56 Africans, including 13 women, and was rescued Saturday afternoon by a Civil Guard patrol boat in waters further east into the Mediterranean, the spokesman said.
On Friday, the service rescued some 140 people.
Most of those seeking new lives in Europe away from violence or poverty at home chose the risky Western Mediterranean route into Spain last year, but flows have recently slowed down. According to the country’s Interior Ministry, 10,475 people have arrived by sea in the first half of 2019, almost 4,000 less than in the same period of 2018.
Germany’s interior minister is appealing to his Italian counterpart to rethink his policy of closing the country’s harbors to humanitarian groups’ rescue ships.
News agency dpa reported that Horst Seehofer wrote Saturday to Italy’s Matteo Salvini that ships with rescued people aboard can’t be left to drift in the Mediterranean Sea for weeks because they can’t find a harbor. He added: “I appeal urgently to you to reconsider your position that you don’t want to open Italian ports.”
Seehofer said that, because of Europe’s responsibility “and our common Christian values” it shouldn’t make a difference by what organization migrants have been rescued, where the crew comes from and what flag the ship is sailing under.
Seehofer, who himself has taken a restrictive line on migration, already has said Germany would be prepared to take some migrants on board two ships currently just outside Italian waters, one of them a German group’s, if other European countries do.
An Italian rescue ship with 46 migrants on board has docked without incident in the Italian port of Lampedusa against an explicit ban after declaring a state of emergency. The maneuver was very similar to one made by a German rescue ship one week ago that disobeyed direct orders from port officials to moor in Lampedusa.
Television images showed migrants sitting in rows on the bow of Mediterranea Saving Humans’ sailboat wearing orange life-jackets. They clapped as they docked Saturday afternoon. There was no immediate movement to disembark.
Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has barred all private rescue ships from entering Italian ports. He pointed to an offer from Malta to accept the migrants from the Italian-flagged ship. But the NGO said Malta was too far for its ship.
Dutch police say a man suspected of being a migrant has died after falling or jumping from a moving truck near the port city of Rotterdam.
Police arrested the driver of the truck on suspicion of people smuggling and also detained seven other people who were on board the vehicle when the incident happened Saturday.
In a statement, police say that they were alerted by witnesses who reported seeing people hanging out of a truck with Polish license plates. When officers drove up to the truck, a man fell or jumped out and later died of his injuries.
Police say the suspected migrants possibly come from Eritrea. Investigations are continuing into where they came from and where they were going.
Police in southern Austria say 11 Iranian migrants hoping to travel to Germany have been found among a load of fridges inside a freight train car.
A railway worker at a shunting yard in Fuernitz, near Villach on the Slovenian border, heard knocking sounds from inside the sealed car on a freight train that had arrived from Slovenia on Friday afternoon. He alerted police, who said Saturday that officers found three women, three men and five children inside.
The migrants told authorities that a smuggler had put them in the freight car near a home for refugees in Sid, Serbia on Thursday and told them the train would take them to Germany. They said they had paid the smuggler 1,000 euros ($1,125) per person.
The German humanitarian group Sea-Eye says its rescue ship Alan Kurdi with 65 rescued people on board is sailing toward the Italian island of Lampedusa, where it will join another ship blocked offshore.
The announcement, made late Friday, is sure to escalate tensions with Italy over its refusal to offer a safe port to NGO ships.
Another ship, the Alex operated by the Italian group Mediterranea Saving Humans, is already off Lampedusa just outside Italian territorial waters with another 40 migrants.
Sea-Eye said “we are not intimidated” by Italy’s hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, “but instead head toward the nearest port of safety.” Thirty-nine claim to be minors.
The new standoffs come a week after a German rescue ship forced its way into Lampedusa’s port citing “a state of necessity.”