The Latest: Ship requests medical evacuations for 3 migrants
SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — The Latest on Europe's response to mass migration (all times local): 7:55 p.m. A Spanish aid group says it has asked Italy to help evacuate three migrants for health reasons out of the 160 passengers on board its rescue ship while the captain seeks authorization to enter a port.
Humanitarian group Open Arms said Sunday that the three "require specialized medical attention." It said, "We are waiting for confirmation from Italian authorities" since Italy had "the nearest safe port."
The organization's eponymous rescue ship, the Open Arms, rescued 123 migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea on Aug. 2. The Italian coast guard removed two pregnant women a day later, but the other passengers have remained at sea.
The ship's crew picked up another 39 migrants on Saturday. The government of Malta said it would take them because the rescue happened in its search-and-rescue area. The aid group's founder declined the offer, saying a safe port needed to be found for all the rescued passengers.
Doctors Without Borders says a ship it operates in the Mediterranean Sea with another humanitarian group has rescued dozens of migrants for a third straight day and now has a total of 251 on board.
Doctors Without Borders tweeted that the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking picked up 81 people Sunday from an unseaworthy rubber dinghy in international waters off Libya, where many migrant -smugglers are based.
Doctors Without Borders runs Ocean Viking with sea rescue group SOS Mediterranee. It was unclear where or when the ship's passengers might find safe harbor.
Determined to keep aid groups' boats from taking migrants to ports in Italy, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has banned Ocean Viking from the country and its territorial waters.
Salvini also forbid a rescue boat run by the Spanish charity Open Arms to enter Italian territory. Open Arms is carrying 160 people. Most of them were rescued on Aug. 2, and the ship has remained at sea since then after Italy and Malta refused to let it into their ports.
Salvini has demanded that other European Union nations take the rescued migrants.
Police in North Macedonia say border patrol officers found 22 migrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh packed into an SUV and arrested the driver.
A media statement issued Sunday said the officers made the discovery on Saturday afternoon in southern North Macedonia, near the town of Demir Kapija.
Police allege the migrants entered the country illegally from Greece and say they will be deported back there. The statement says the passengers were taken to a shelter in the border town of Gevgelija.
Thousands of migrants attempt to go from Greece to wealthier European countries along the so-called Western Balkan route even though countries along the way have beefed up their borders.
North Macedonian police said they prevented 10,017 migrants from illegally entering the country in the first half of the year.