(ALGECIRAS, Spain) — The migrant rescue ship Open Arms arrived in the Spanish port of Algericas Thursday morning carrying 87 people who had been rescued off the coast of Libya a week ago, a spokesperson for the Spanish NGO told ABC.
All 87 people — 75 men and 12 minors, nearly all from Sudan — disembarked this morning and were taken to a migrant center, Open Arms spokesperson Laura Lanuza said. The migrants had been rescued Aug. 2 after spending 50 hours at sea on board an inflatable boat without drinking water. Many of the people on board had suffered skin burns caused by a mixture of fuel and salt water, aid workers said.
After their rescue, the migrants were forced to wait at sea on board the ship until Aug. 6 before knowing which port they would be heading for.
In a tweet that day, Open Arms announced that it had finally been assigned the port of Algeciras in southern Spain.
“Destination port: Algeciras. Located 590 nautical miles from where we are, a fact that translates into 3 more days of crossing from today if there is sufficient food for all. The 87 rescued people will have waited more than 1 week to reach a safe harbor,” the organization tweeted in Spanish.
Open Arms and other aid groups that have made it their mission to rescue migrants off the coast of Libya continue to request that ships be allowed to dock at closer ports in EU member countries.
But since Italy closed its ports to foreign NGO rescue ships this summer, aid ships now have to wait at sea, often for days, to find out where they will allowed to dock.
Previously, nearly all aid ships carrying migrants rescued off the coast of Libya would dock in Italy for a few days after the rescue operations were complete.
Open Arms is the third NGO ship carrying rescued migrants that Spain has agreed to accept this summer.
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