Over 100 migrants rescued by AFM patrol vessel

Migrants picked up the Doctors Without Borders Sea boat the Aquarius. 141 were rescued and are now being refused permission to dock in Italy and Malta. Pic Guglielmo Mangiapane SOS Mediterranee

The operators of the migrant ship Aquarius on Monday called on Europe to find a safe haven for 141 people it rescued in the Mediterranean, saying Italy and Malta had again refused to let the vessel dock.

The migrants were rescued last week after their two wooden boats capsized.

The people on board were rescued in the Mediterranean in two search and rescue operations by Aquarius on Friday.

"The vessel [Aquarius ] is now in global waters off Malta and the island of Lampedusa, awaiting the designation of a safe port in accordance with worldwide maritime law", SOS Mediterranee chief Sophie Beau told French radio station France Info.

"We're asking all European countries to find a solution".

French President Emmanuel Macron was the most outspoken critic of Italy during the June stand-off but has never allowed migrant ships to dock at its ports.

The European Commission was in touch with several EU states and is trying to help resolve the "incident" with the Aquarius, a spokesperson in Brussels said.

Now the Italian government, which has been led by a populist coalition since March, is calling on the United Kingdom to take responsibility for the ship because it's flying under the Gibraltar flag.

His hardline stance has sparked a row among European Union members, underscoring their failure to come up with a common approach to the influx of people trying to escape conflict, persecution or poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

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In June, the Aquarius ended up taking some 630 migrants to Spain, which welcomed it.

The migrants were loaded up onto police vans and taken for processing.

Malta said on Saturday it would not welcome the ship while Spain said its ports were not the safest destination for the vessel.

The vessel is reportedly now still at sea between Malta and Italy after MFS claimed both nations said they would not open their ports to the ship and those on board.

Paris also voiced regret at the "very tough political stance" of the Italian government.

"Malta was neither the coordinating nor the competent authority (and).the requests for the vessel to enter our ports are unwarranted and without legal standing", it said in a statement.

Leaders on the French island of Corsica had offered to welcome the Aquarius in June.

The government said the Aquarius rescue was carried out off the Libyan coast.

The boat was registered in the British overseas territory, on Spain's southern flank, in 2009.

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