The Latest: Panama pulls migrant rescue boat’s registration
MADRID – The Latest on Europe’s migrant crisis (all times local):
Panama says that it has withdrawn the registration of the only private migrant rescue boat still operating in the central Mediterranean after complaints from Italy, which is cracking down on migrant arrivals.
Panama’s maritime authority said in a statement that Italy contends that the captain of Aquarius 2 defied instructions to return migrants to Libya that it had rescued from unseaworthy vessels launched by Libyan-based traffickers.
SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, the humanitarian groups operating Aquarius 2, say violence-wracked Libya doesn’t meet international standards for safe harbor and on Sunday asked European governments to reassure Panama that Italy’s contentions are unfounded or issue a new flag so Aquarius 2 can keep operating.
Right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini won’t let private rescue boats dock in Italy.
Aquarius 2 rescued 58 migrants off Libya in recent days.
Macedonian police say they have detained 120 migrants, in two separate cases, who illegally entered Macedonia from Greece as the number of illegal crossings has significantly risen in recent months.
Police said Sunday that a border police patrol discovered 37 migrants in southern Macedonia, near the frontier with Greece. They were detained, but police gave no more details about their nationality.
In a second case, 83 migrants, 11 of them minors, and most of them Pakistanis (76), were discovered packed in a truck coming from Greece. The truck driver was detained and the migrants transferred to the reception center in the southern town of Gevgelija.
Macedonian police say they have turned back about 6,600 migrants attempting to cross the border in the first half of 2018.
Spain’s maritime rescue service says it has saved over 440 migrants attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa.
The service says it pulled 447 people from 15 small boats intercepted by its rescue craft on Saturday. Except for one dinghy carrying 12 people found near the island of Mallorca, the rest were rescued off Spain’s southern coast.
Nearly 300 migrants have died in waters separating Spain and Africa so far in 2018, according to the United Nations, and over 1,600 have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.
A recent spike in migrant arrivals in Spain has strained public services, and the Spanish government has faced further pressure since Italy refused to let humanitarian boats dock with migrants they have rescued from the sea.