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Hundreds of Migrants Stranded in Mediterranean in Standoff Over Aid Ships

EntertainmentHundreds of Migrants Stranded in Mediterranean in Standoff Over Aid Ships

The United Nations has criticized the Italian policy of turning ships away, with Charlie Yaxley, a spokesman for the body’s refugee agency, saying the ships played an “invaluable role in saving the lives of refugees and migrants attempting the dangerous sea crossing to Europe.”

The operators of the Ocean Viking, which has four high-speed rescue boats and a medical clinic onboard, said it would remain for now in international waters near the Libyan coast, because they believe there may be more ships in distress and they still have space for about 80 more people.

The crew then plans to head north and attempt to dock, according to a spokeswoman for M.S.F. The Libyan Coast Guard had earlier offered to allow the boat to disembark there over the weekend, but the rescue vessel would not return people to Libya, wracked by civil war, because of safety concerns.

“Many of the people we have rescued recount horrific stories of violence, torture, extortion, sexual violence and forced labor in Libya, as well as arbitrary detention in inhumane conditions,” M.S.F. said in a statement. “We know that migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers experience alarming levels of violence and exploitation in the country.”

Elsewhere in the Mediterranean, another ship, the Open Arms, run by a Spanish charity group, had 151 rescued migrants and refugees by Monday and had been denied entry into Italian and Maltese ports.

There were originally more people on board, but a man with tuberculosis and two women with medical concerns and their families were evacuated, according to Laura Lanuza, a spokeswoman for Open Arms. A video shared by the organization on Monday morning showed dozens of people sleeping in rows on the ship’s deck at dawn. They had been there for 11 days.

“The 151 people who will remain on board need a secure port NOW,” the organization said in a tweet. “Europe has abandoned them.”

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