Boat carrying over 300 migrants rescued off Libya reaches Spain

A woman is rescued by aid workers of Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms in the Central Mediterranean Sea at 45 miles (72 kilometers) from Al Khums, Lybia. (AP)
Updated 28 December 2018
0

Boat carrying over 300 migrants rescued off Libya reaches Spain

  • The Spanish charity which runs the Open Arms vessel said the migrants were mainly from Somalia, Nigeria and Mali
  • They were rescued on December 21 from three vessels but were denied entry by Italy and Malta

SAN ROQUE, Spain: A charity rescue boat carrying 311 mainly African migrants plucked off Libya entered Spanish waters Friday morning and was set to berth in a southern port near Gibraltar.
Proactiva Open Arms, the Spanish charity which runs the Open Arms vessel said the migrants -- who include pregnant women, children and babies -- were mainly from Somalia, Nigeria and Mali.
The ship will dock in the port of Crinavis, in San Roque, near the city of Algeciras.
"Good morning, Open Arms is already in the Bay of Gibraltar and is steering towards the only port available to it in the Mediterranean. Mission accomplished," tweeted the charity's founder Oscar Camps.
The migrants were rescued on December 21 from three vessels but were denied entry by Italy and Malta. Libya, France and Tunisia did not respond to Proactiva Open Arms' requests for permission to dock, Madrid said.
On Saturday, a newborn baby and his mother were helicoptered from the boat to Malta, while a 14-year-old suffering from a serious skin infection was taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Photos and videos posted by the charity showed the rest of the rescued migrants marking Christmas at sea listening to music and singing. Some children wore red Santa hats as they huddled together on the small rescue ship.
Police will identify the migrants before moving them to shelters.
Proactiva Open Arms operates in the sea between Libya and southern Europe, coming to the aid of migrants who get into difficulties during the crossing from northern Africa.
It will be the first time since August that Spain has allowed a charity rescue ship to dock and unload migrants in the country.
The Open Arms resumed its patrols of the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast in late November, along with two other boats run by migrant aid groups.
In August it had suspended its missions, accusing governments, and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini by name, of "criminalising" migrant rescue charities.
Salvini has denied the groups access to Italy's ports, accusing them of acting as a "taxi service" for migrants. Malta too has been increasingly unwilling to host rescue vessels.
"Your rhetoric and your message will, like everything in this life, end," Proactiva Open Arms' founder Camps told Salvini on Twitter earlier.
"But you should know that in a few decades your descendants will be ashamed of what you do and say."
More than 1,300 migrants have perished trying to reach Italy or Malta since the beginning of the year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
That makes this stretch of the Mediterranean the most deadly for migrants attempting the crossing to Europe.
Spain meanwhile has become Europe's main entry point for migrants this year, overtaking Greece and Italy.
More 56,000 migrants have arrived in Spain by sea this year, and 769 have died trying, according to the IOM.


Tunisian workers kidnapped in Libya

Updated 16 February 2019
0

Tunisian workers kidnapped in Libya

TUNIS: Militiamen have kidnapped a group of Tunisian workers near the Libyan capital Tripoli, demanding Tunis release a comrade, the foreign ministry and a rights activist said.
"The foreign ministry is following the case of the Tunisian citizens... kidnapped by armed Libyan elements near Zawiya", the ministry said on its Facebook page late Friday.
Rights activist Mustapha Abdelkebir said the armed group behind Thursday's kidnappings was demanding the release of one of its members held in Tunisia.
The kidnap victims were workers at Zawiya oil refinery, Tunisian media said. A diplomatic source told AFP that 14 workers had been taken hostage.
"The minister has spoken to his Libyan counterpart to insist on the protection of the detainees, accelerate their release and ensure that they return safe and sound", the ministry said in a statement.
Tunisia reopened a consulate in Libya in 2018, after shutting it three years earlier due to the kidnapping of 10 Tunisian diplomats.
The Libyan militia which carried out the 2015 kidnapping had demanded the release of one of its leaders, Walid Glib, detained in Tunisia as part of a counter-terrorism investigation.
The diplomats were released after several days and Walid Glib was later deported to Tripoli.
Libya's Tripoli-based Government of National Accord said it had no information on Thursday's abduction and that it was looking into the matter.
The country has been mired in chaos since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in a 2011 NATO-backed uprising, as two rival administrations and numerous militias grapple for power.