In the latest standoff between European governments and search-and-rescue operators in the Mediterranean Sea, Italy and Malta have both refused to accept a Spanish charity rescue ship carrying 121 migrants and refugees, who had been rescued near to both countries and left in international waters for more than eight days. Although the Italian government allowed two heavily pregnant women and the sister of one of them to disembark, it threatened the Open Arms ship with a EUR50,000 fine and confiscation if it attempted to dock in an Italian port.
The rescue ship is now waiting to hear if the acting Spanish government will allow the migrants to be received in four Spanish regions that have offered to accept them.
More than 2,000 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean into Europe in 2018. In a tragic incident last month, up to 150 people were believed to have drowned after their boats capsized off Libya.
In other migrant sea movement further north, more people have been picked up attempting to cross the English Channel into Britain. The authorities detained 40 migrants and refugees travelling in three separate small boats on or near the English coast.
Britain and France have stepped up their action to intercept small boats attempting to make the perilous crossing of one of the busiest sea lanes in the world.