Italy Rebuffs Ship with 64 Migrants Rescued in Sea Off Libya

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2019-04-03

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MILAN —Italy's interior minister said Wednesday that he won't offer safe harbor to 64 migrants rescued off Libya by the German humanitarian group Sea-Eye.

The people brought to safety from a rubber dinghy off the coast of Zuwarah, west of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, included 10 women, five children and a newborn baby, the group said. Sea-Eye said on Twitter that its rescue ship, the Alan Kurdi, picked them up after Libyan authorities couldn't be reached.

Sea-Eye is asking Italy or Malta to open a port to the ship. Italy's anti-migration interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said the Alan Kurdi, like other private rescue ships before it, won't be welcome in Italy.

"A ship with a German flag, German NGO, German ship owner, captain from Hamburg. It responded in Libyan waters and asks for a safe port. Good, go to Hamburg," Salvini said.

Both Italy and Malta have refused to accept ships that humanitarian groups have patrolling the Mediterranean Sea, leading to numerous delays in getting rescued migrants to land while European countries haggle over which will take them in.

Sea-Eye said another 50 migrants it has been searching for since Monday remain missing.