The Latest: Group: Malta finally allows rescue ship to leave

October 20, 2018 - 9:01 am

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The Latest on migration issues in Europe (all times local):

3:55 p.m.

A humanitarian group says its migrant rescue ship has been cleared to leave Malta for repairs, after being prevented from doing so for months by the island's authorities.

The German group Sea-Watch said Saturday that the vessel, Sea-Watch 3, has been "blocked" from leaving Malta since July 2 amid an investigation into Dutch-registered rescue ships.

The probe was triggered by questions surrounding the MS Lifeline as it was trying to land in Malta with 234 rescued migrants on board. Lifeline's German captain denies entering the island's waters illegally and without proper registration.

Sea-Watch said Malta held its ship for almost two months "without justification" after Dutch authorities cleared it of wrongdoing.

The group says over 500 people likely drowned in the Mediterranean during the time that the rescue ships were prevented from sailing.

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1:45 p.m.

Spanish police say that 10 officers and one migrant have been injured when a large group of migrants tried to escape from a holding center where they await deportation.

Police say that a group of around 80 migrants of Algerian origin tried to break out of the internment center in Madrid early Saturday.

In August, 13 migrants successfully escaped from the same center. Five were arrested shortly after the breakout.

Spain has seen a spike in arrivals of migrants from Africa this year, many attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea in dinghies.

Migrants who have been ordered by a Spanish judge to be deported to their countries of origin can be sent to internment centers for up to 60 days while authorities arrange their return.

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1:40 p.m.

Cypriot police say most of the 29 Syrian migrants who have arrived to the Mediterranean island after setting sail from Lebanon told authorities they have relatives living on Cyprus.

Police said Saturday that the migrants, including five women, nine children and one unescorted minor, have so far made no requests for asylum after being taken to a reception center on the outskirts of the capital, Nicosia.

The 29 arrived Friday by boat at Cape Greco on Cyprus' southeastern tip.

Cyprus officials say the tiny country of 1.1 million people can hardly cope with a burgeoning number of asylum-seekers.

Earlier this week, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told other European Union leaders that the ethnically split country is coming under "disproportionately great strain" from arriving migrants, especially through the breakaway north.

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