Spanish migrant rescue boat refuses to dock in Italy

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Rome, July 18 (IANS/AKI) Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms will not allow its migrant rescue ship to dock in Italy as the country has “no safe port” where the survivor from a deadly shipwreck off Libya can come ashore give evidence to investigators, its director Riccardo Gatti said on Wednesday.

“We will head for Spain, although Italy has said we can enter the port of Catania. But we refuse to dock in Italy after the government’s statements and because we don’t believe there any safe ports there,” Gatti told the InBlu network of Catholic radio stations.

The Pro Activa Open Arms vessel will probably head to Palma di Maiorca, he added.

Italian media on Wednesday quoted unnamed government sources as dismissing as “fake news” claims by Proactiva Open Arms’ founder Oscar Camps on Tuesday that Libyan coastguard deliberately sank a dinghy and left a toddler and two women to die at sea after they refused to board a patrol boat. Only one of the two women survived.

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Camps posted graphic photos to Twitter on Tuesday of the corpses of the small boy and a woman floating among wreckage from the dinghy, with a second woman beside them whom the charity rescued alive with acute hypothermia.

“We are also worried about the well-being of the woman we saved and that she should be able to freely and safely give evidence,” said Gatti.

The Italian government has not issued an official statement concerning Camp’s allegations.

The Libyan coastguard earlier sent out a message to the Rome-based Maritime Rescue Co-ordination saying they had picked up 158 Europe-bound migrants off the city of Khoms on Monday.

The migrants received humanitarian and medical assistance and were taken to a refugee camp at Khoms, the coastguard said. It has denied Camps’ shocking claims.

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