The Latest: Italian church will take most migrants from ship

ROME (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s response to mass migration (all times local):

10:45 p.m.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says the Italian Catholic church will take most of the migrants who have been stuck aboard an Italian coast guard ship for days.

Conte’s office quoted him as saying Saturday night that the Italian bishop’s conference will take 100 of the migrants and Albania and Ireland will take 20 each. The move ends a standoff Italy had begun earlier in the week with the European Union over the migrants’ fate.

Fifty others of the 190 people rescued at sea on Aug. 16 by the Italian coast guard were previously left off the ship, many for health reasons. Most of the migrants are from Eritrea.

Conte also expressed his displeasure that more EU nations didn’t offer to take in the migrants. He said Italy wouldn’t approve the EU-multi-year budget unless policy changed.


10:15 p.m.

Italian state TV says Italy’s interior minister is being investigated for his role in forbidding migrants rescued at sea to disembark in Italy.

Minister Matteo Salvini indirectly confirmed the report Saturday night, tweeting that a Sicilian prosecutor asked him for his personal data and that “if he wants to interrogate me or even arrest me because I defend the borders and security of my country, I’m proud.”

Salvini added that he’ll soon allow the nearly 140 migrants he had kept aboard an Italian coast guard ship for days in Sicily to disembark. He says besides the 20 asylum-seekers that Albania has pledged to take in, the rest will be hosted by Italian bishops.

A few dozen of the 190 migrants rescued on Aug. 16 in the Mediterranean Sea were earlier allowed to leave the ship.


9:30 p.m.

Italy says Albania has offered to take in 20 migrants from the Italian coast guard ship that rescued them Aug. 16.

The foreign ministry tweeted Saturday that Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi thanks Albania for the sign of “great solidarity and friendship.”

Nearly 140 migrants are still aboard the ship, docked in Sicily.

Italy says they can’t disembark until other European Union nations agree to take them. So far none have and Albania is not in the EU.

The coast guard rescued the migrants from a foundering boat that had been launched into the Mediterranean Sea by human traffickers based in Libya.

Italy says it doesn’t want more migrants to land because some 600,000 rescued migrants have been brought to Italian ports in the last few years.


8:25 p.m.

Six women and six ailing men have left an Italian coast guard vessel that has docked for days in Sicily.

But some 138 migrants who were rescued with them nine days earlier in the Mediterranean Sea weren’t allowed off the Diciotti, because Italy insists that fellow European Union nations must take them in.

Initially, Red Cross officials said Saturday that 16 would be let off, including all the 11 women on the ship, after doctors found suspected cases of tuberculosis and pneumonia. Later, RAI state TV said that a 17th person, a man with an infection, was allowed off.

Sky TG24 TV said later that five women chose to stay aboard with their husbands.

After disembarking, the migrants were photographed for identification purposes, then taken by Italian Red Cross ambulances to a hospital.

Authorities say the female migrants told them they were raped in Libya.


3:15 p.m.

Italian media are reporting that 16 more migrants have been authorized for health reasons to leave the coast guard ship that rescued them on Aug. 16 and has been docked in Sicily for several days.

Red Cross officials said Italy’s health minister ordered a Saturday inspection of the hygiene conditions on the Italian coast guard ship Diciotti.

Sky TG24 said the 11 remaining women on board and five of the rescued men were expected to get off the ship later in the day. Among them were two passengers suspected of having tuberculosis.

Forty others, including children and people already identified as ill, previously left the ship.

Red Cross official Stefano Principato told reporters on the dock in Catania, Sicily that beyond medical concerns, there is worry about the psychological well-being of the 150 migrants the vessel’s crew rescued.


2:15 p.m.

A prosecutor in Sicily is questioning lower-level officials from Italy’s Interior Ministry about orders to block 150 migrants from getting off the Italian coast guard vessel that rescued them.

Italy’s RAI state TV said Prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio began the questioning in Rome on Saturday.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini won’t let the migrants off the coast guard ship unless other European Union nations pledge to take the asylum-seekers. The ship has been docked in Catania, Sicily for several days.

The crew of the Diciotti rescued the migrants in the Mediterranean Aug. 16. About 40 of the passengers, including minors and ailing adults, have been allowed to leave the ship in the past days.

Most of those still aboard are young men from Eritrea.


1:30 p.m.

Health officials and Red Cross personnel are inspecting an Italian coast guard ship that has been docked in Sicily for days with 150 migrants on board.

Italian news channel Sky TG24 TV said on Saturday that health experts wanted to check hygiene conditions on the Diciotti, whose crew rescued the migrants on Aug. 16. The ship docked in Catania’s harbor earlier in the week.

On Saturday, an ambulance delivered health supplies to be taken aboard.

Some 600,000 asylum-seekers were brought to Italy after being rescued at sea over the last few years. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has insisted the migrants on the coast guard ship won’t be allowed into the country until other European Union nations agree to take them.

So far, none has offered.

A large majority of migrants aboard the Diciotti are Eritrean men. Minors and ailing passengers were allowed off the ship in recent days.


11:00 a.m.

A top member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party is suggesting Germany could introduce a one-year national service of some kind for refugees and asylum-seekers, which she says would help integration and increase Germans’ acceptance.

Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the general secretary of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, made the suggestion in an interview Saturday with the Funke newspaper group.

It’s an extension of a discussion she launched this month on introducing a vaguely defined “general service obligation” for Germans, civilian or military, as a possible future policy. Germany scrapped military conscription in 2011.

Kramp-Karrenbauer said it’s worth discussing whether refugees also should spend a year performing some kind of service to the state. She said that “if refugees do such a year, voluntary or compulsory, that serves their integration into the state and society.”


10:45 a.m.

The United Nations’ refugee agency is imploring European Union countries to take responsibility for 150 migrants stranded aboard an Italian coast guard ship and urging Italy to let the migrants off the ship immediately.

The Diciotti rescued the migrants from a trafficker’s boat on Aug. 16. The ship has been docked in Sicily for days, and Italy’s government is refusing to let it disembark passengers unless other EU nations pledge to take them.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi urged European countries in a statement Saturday “to do the right thing and offer places of asylum for people rescued from the Mediterranean Sea in their time of need.”

Grandi said from Geneva that it’s time to end “a race to the bottom on who can take the least responsibility for people rescued at sea.”

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