The Latest: Rescue ship to land in Sicily with 104 migrants
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s migrant crisis (all times local):
Italy is permitting the humanitarian rescue ship Ocean Viking with 104 migrants on board to land in Sicily.
SOS Mediterranee, one of the charities that operate the ship, expressed relief at the decision Tuesday, but noted it was only an ad-hoc solution.
Operations director Louise Guillaumat tweeted that only two European Union countries had agreed to take in migrants.
Guillaumat said that a “coordinated mechanism will only work if a broader coalition of willing European countries come together.”
The migrants were rescued off Libya on Oct. 18, and the ship has been stranded despite an EU fast-track plan designed to resolve such cases.
The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, thanked Italy, France and Germany for showing solidarity. He called for permanent solutions.
International human rights groups and relief agencies have sharply criticized plans by Greece’s government to toughen asylum procedures to try and manage a recent surge in arrivals of migrants and refugees.
The groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday in a series of separate statements and at a news conference in Athens that the proposed changes would restrict the right of refugees fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere from seeking international protection in the European Union.
Greek authorities are struggling to cope with a sharp rise in the number of arrivals over the summer months on its eastern islands, where EU-funded camps are suffering severe overcrowding and outbreaks of violence. The proposed changes are due to be voted in Greece’s parliament this week.