The Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms on Sunday said it had identified a fishing boat with more than 40 migrants in a state of severe dehydration near Lampedusa. Italian police and coast guard accompanied the boat to the tiny Italian island where the day before, local authorities had impounded the migrant rescue ship Sea-Watch 3 and arrested its captain, Carola Rackete.
The Spanish humanitarian group Proactiva Open Arms spotted the migrants' boat in the Mediterranean Sea close to Lampedusa on Sunday. Spokeswoman Laura Lanuza told The Associated Press (AP) that three pregnant women and four children were among the people on the migrant boat that had departed Libya three days earlier.
In a tweet, the organization said that the people on the boat were extremely dehydrated.
#ULTIMAHORA— Open Arms (@openarms_fund) June 30, 2019
Localizada barca de madera procedente #Libia con 40 personas, 4 bebés y 3 embarazadas, con alto nivel de deshidratación tras 3 días de travesía. Les hemos atendido y activado a administraciones pertinentes para q se hicieran cargo.Ahora les escoltan hasta #Lampedusa pic.twitter.com/LDMHLIB1h9
Lanuza said that the Maltese coast guard was contacted, but an Italian coast guard vessel arrived to escort the migrants instead because their boat was closer to Lampedusa than to Malta, AP reported. The migrants were then taken to Lampedusa.
The governments of both Italy and Malta have repeatedly denied entry to rescue ships run by nonprofit groups. However, the respective coast guards of the two countries carry out rescue missions of migrants of their own, intercepting the typically unseaworthy vessels that people smugglers launch from Libya.
Legal action against Sea-Watch
Meanwhile, the captain of the charity rescue ship Sea-Watch 3, Carola Rackete, might be risking jail time for forcing her way into Italy's Lampedusa port with 40 rescued migrants on Saturday.
The 31-year-old German captain is accused of putting a military speedboat and the safety of its occupants at risk during the incident on Saturday.
"It wasn't an act of violence, but only one of disobedience," Rackete told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera in an interview published Sunday. "The situation was desperate," she said. "My goal was only to bring exhausted and desperate people to shore.“
Italian Interior Minister Salvini, who had refused to allow the migrants onto Italian territory until other EU countries pledged to take them in, praised the arrest of the "law-breaking captain".