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UN urges European governments to allow in migrants stranded at sea

More than 500 remain on board rescue vessels amid a refusal by some countries to accept them.

A rescue team of the Ocean Viking ship, operated by the NGOs Sos Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, approaches a rubber dinghy with over 80 migrants off the Libyan coast (AP)
A rescue team of the Ocean Viking ship, operated by the NGOs Sos Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, approaches a rubber dinghy with over 80 migrants off the Libyan coast (AP)

By Associated Press Reporter

The United Nations refugee agency has called on European governments to urgently allow in more than 500 people rescued in the Mediterranean but who remain stranded at sea as countries bicker over who should take them.

UNHCR special envoy Vincent Cochetel said “this is a race against time”.

He said “storms are coming and conditions are only going to get worse”.

The migrants are aboard two ships chartered by humanitarian aid groups, but Italy’s anti-migrant government is denying them access to its ports.

The UNHCR says nearly 600 people have died or gone missing in waters between Libya and Italy this year.

The European Commission said it was urging member countries to take action and is offering support, but has no power to intervene.

A spokeswoman said: “There’s nothing more we can do.”

PA

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