Spain offers to take Open Arms migrant vessel

MADRID, Spain – Spain's government offered Sunday, August 18, to take in the charity vessel Open Arms with more than 100 migrants on board because of Italy's "inconceivable" refusal to allow it to dock.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez "today ordered the port of Algeciras to be ready to receive the boat Open Arms," which is currently in limbo off the Italian island of Lampedusa, his office said in a statement.

It cited the "urgent situation" on the vessel and the "inconceivable decision by the Italian authorities... to close all its ports" to the migrants.

The Open Arms organization said Madrid had taken the decision because of the "untenable" situation for the 105 migrants still aboard, including two children. 

"Spanish ports are not the closest or the safest for Open Arms... but for now Spain is the only country willing to accept it," the organization said.

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, has refused to allow migrant rescue vessels to dock as part of his hardline policies.

Italy's government on Saturday, August 17, reluctantly agreed to let 27 migrant children from the Proactiva Open Arms disembark though it demanded that the rest stay aboard. –