Spanish NGO rescue boat stuck in a stalemate with the Italian government for 20 days
Saturday 24 August - Migrants are being 'radicalised' by NGOs pushing them to raise their demands, warns UN refugee official after rescue ship trying to dock in Italy snubbed Spanish offer of asylum.
Vincent Cochetel, the UN's special envoy for the Central Mediterranean, warned that migrants were becoming more radical as a result of NGOs pushing them to raise their demands.
He was commenting on the Open Arms migrant rescue ship which had been trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa for weeks.
The Spanish rescue boat was stuck in a stalemate with the Italian government for 20 days as Rome refused to let it dock.
Spain offered to let the migrants disembark in Mallorca but Open Arms rejected.
The non-profit repeatedly said that the situation on board was desperate and some migrants were suicidal.
This prompted Cochetel to tweet:
'Open Arms rejects Spanish offer of safe haven... while I understand the difficulty of the situation on board, I am very concerned by the radicalisation of the migratory dreams & demands of some migrants & refugees in Libya & neighbouring countries.'
The vessel was eventually allowed to dock in Italy after an Italian prosecutor ordered the seizure of the ship.
The migrants, mainly from Africa, were removed from the boat at Lampedusa's harbour just after 11.30pm on Tuesday. The passengers were sleeping jammed together on deck and sharing two toilets.
The Open Arms ship, run by a Spanish charity of the same name, had rescued the migrants heading for Europe off the Libyan coast.
But after Italy refused to let it dock the ship had been stranded at sea for nearly three weeks, with the charity saying that the migrants were distressed and urgently needed to find shelter.