UN urges reluctant European Union nations to help stranded migrants

Giorgia Meloni with Steve Bannon former strategist to Donald Trump at a far Right forum in Rome September 2018

Giorgia Meloni with Steve Bannon former strategist to Donald Trump at a far Right forum in Rome September 2018 Credit Massimo Percossi AP

After four consecutive days of search and rescue operations in the central Mediterranean, Doctors Without Borders and SOS Mediterranee asked Maltese and Italian authorities for "support in finding a place of safety".

"Among the survivors are those bearing the harrowing signs of physical and psychological violence experienced during their journey through Libya", said Jay Berger, an MSF project coordinator who is aboard the Ocean Viking.

An additional 151 migrants are on another charity ship also looking for a place to dock. The Italian government has banned them from its territory, and Malta has refused to let the ships into the country's ports, AP said. Cochetel said the ships "must be immediately allowed to dock" and their passengers "allowed to receive much-needed humanitarian aid".

Referring to the two migrants boats now stranded in the Mediterranean, Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration, said: "Temporary arrangements that provide for safe and predictable solutions for the persons rescued at sea are urgently needed in the Mediterranean. If it was us, we would do it", Jose Luis Abalos, Spain's acting development minister, told Telecinco television on Tuesday.

Reig sent a letter Monday to the Spanish embassy in nearby Malta asking Madrid to grant the minors asylum.

The United Nations refugee agency is calling on European governments to urgently allow in more than 500 people rescued in the Mediterranean but who remain stranded at sea as countries bicker over who should take them.

"Storms are expected and conditions will only get worse".

The migrants are aboard two ships chartered by humanitarian aid groups, but Italy's anti-migrant government is denying them access to its ports.

The move was prompted by deputy premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of the far-right League party, who says differences with their coalition partner, the populist Five Star Movement (M5S), have become too great and that snap elections are the best way forward.

"I am at work in the ministry this morning to prevent more than 500 migrants from disembarking from two NGO boats, one French and one Spanish", Salvini wrote on Facebook.

"The sobering reality is that there is an ongoing conflict in Libya where many vulnerable migrants and refugees are trapped in detention centres on the frontline", MSF's Berger said on Tuesday.

Italy took in nearly all of the migrants rescued by humanitarian groups at sea until a populist coalition government took office in 2018 and immediately sought to close the nation's ports to the charity vessels.

Open Arms, the Spanish charity, has called for the European Union to coordinate the re-distribution of the people around the bloc.

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