POZZALLO, Sicily (AP) - The Latest on Europe’s response to mass migration (all times local):
The captain of a private aid ship that engaged in migrant rescue missions is accusing Italy and Malta of hiding a deadly “farce” in the Mediterranean Sea.
Claus-Peter Reisch, who faces trial in Malta for allegedly captaining a ship that wasn’t properly registered, said Monday in Munich that he’s done nothing wrong.
Both Italy and Malta have impeded aid groups from operating rescue boats, either by refusing them entry to their ports or by impounding their vessels and putting their crews under investigation.
The 57-year-old Reisch, who captained for German aid group Mission Lifeline, said he believes about 100 migrants are dying daily in the Mediterranean, and accused the governments of trying to hide the death toll.
He said: “The curtain is being drawn over this farce, in which many people are dying, so nobody in the world can see it anymore.”
Migrants who landed in Sicily after days at sea are reporting that four Somalis died during their Mediterranean odyssey.
The International Organization for Migration’s Italy spokesman, Flavio Di Giocomo, tweeted the news Monday while the migrants were being identified, processed and interviewed in the Sicilian port town of Pozzallo.
Di Giocomo says the migrants reported that four Somalis drowned Friday when they and 30 other migrants jumped into the sea to reach an unidentified rescue ship.
It’s not clear what became of the 30 survivors. Hundreds of other migrants stayed aboard the fishing vessel attempting to take from Libya to Europe and were transferred onto military ships Saturday.
Italy initially refused to let the two military ships dock in one of its ports. The ships were allowed into Pozzallo after a half-dozen European Union countries agreed to take 50 passengers each.
Migrants aboard two border patrol ships have disembarked in a Sicilian port after a half-dozen European countries promised to take some of them in rather than have Italy process their asylum claims alone.
Italy’s hard-line, anti-migrant government had kept the two military ships from docking at Pozzallo until other countries had stepped up. Early Monday, the ships came into port and disembarked their passengers, who were seen being screened at dawn.
Many women and children had already come ashore.
On Sunday, Germany, Spain and Portugal each agreed to respectively accept 50 of the migrants, following similar offers by France and Malta.
But not everyone agreed. The Czech Republic rebuffed the appeal and called the distribution plan a “road to hell.”
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