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Charity Boat With 363 Rescued Migrants Aboard Needs a Port

Bangladeshis rescued off the Libyan coast line up to be registered by police at the port of Messina after disembarking from an Open Arms rescue vessel, in Sicily, Italy, Jan. 15, 2020. A second Open Arms vessel was in search of a port Feb. 1.

A Spanish charity boat with 363 rescued migrants aboard is appealing to be allowed to dock at a port so it can let passengers disembark after several days in the Mediterranean Sea.

Gerard Canals, head of the Open Arms mission, on Saturday also expressed concern that food could run out. He said there was about 30 kilos (66 pounds) of rice aboard, enough to last about two more days.

In a separate tweet, Open Arms said the migrants were crowded together on the bridge of the rescue boat.

The migrants were taken aboard Open Arms in five separate rescues from distressed boats launched by Libya-based human traffickers over the past few days.

After no permission came from Malta for a safe port, Canals said, the rescue group is hoping Italy will allow it to dock.

In the past few months Italy has allowed such charity ships to disembark rescued migrants at its ports on condition that other European Union nations agree to take some of the asylum-seekers. Several EU nations have done so, making good on pledges to share the migrant burden at a conference in Malta a few months ago.

During Italy's previous government, which included the anti-migrant League, then-Interior Minister Matteo Salvini triggered repeated standoffs at sea when he refused port permission to private rescue ships. In some cases, the rescuers were left in limbo for days or forced to sail as far as Spain to disembark migrants.