Spanish humanitarian ship Open Arms remains stuck in the Mediterranean Sea off Italy’s southernmost island for an eighth day, with no European government offering safe harbour to the 121 migrants on board.
The vessel faces a fine of up to a million euros (£928,000) if it enters Italian waters, and the ship’s dilemma is becoming the new normal as European governments increasingly shut their doors to migrants.
Richard Gere visited rescued migrants on the ship, delivering food and supplies by boat to the Open Arms near the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The 69-year-old Hollywood star carried fruit boxes on board and spoke to several migrants who had fled war-torn Libya on unseaworthy smuggling boats before being rescued.
Gere urged the world to “please support us here on Open Arms and help these people, our brothers and sisters”.
Other European countries have yet to respond to the Proactiva Open Arms aid group’s request for a solution to the impasse over the rescue ship.
POA said Spain and Malta have refused to open their ports, and the EU Commission only intervenes by request of a national government.
The blockage is led by Italy’s firebrand interior minister Matteo Salvini, who this week plunged his country into political crisis in an apparent power play largely buoyed by popularity gained for his hardline stance against migrant arrivals.