The Latest: Italy to provide vessels to Libyan coast guard

August 07, 2018 - 9:52 am

MADRID (AP) — The Latest on the migrant crisis in Europe (all times local):

3:50 p.m.

Italian lawmakers have approved 10 new patrol boats and two larger ships for the Libyan coast guard, as part of measures by the populist government to control migration.

News agency ANSA reported that the vessels, approved by the Senate on Monday, will be ready to deploy by the end of August.

Human rights groups are increasing protesting against Libyan coast guard rescues, which land the migrants back in the largely lawless country deemed by the European Union not to be a safe haven.

While even the previous government was supporting the Libyan coast guard's efforts to patrol territorial waters, the new populist government has gone one step further, refusing ports to any migrants rescued at sea by humanitarian ships.

The measure to supply boats was approved by a vote of 382-11, with one abstention.

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3:25 p.m.

A British jury has convicted a gang that was prepared to smuggle Albanian migrants across the English Channel using flimsy boats —or even a jet ski.

Plot organizers Artur Nutaj and Sabah Dulaj facilitated the transport of migrants from France to the U.K. A group based in Kent in southeastern England provided the vessels to transport the migrants, who were charged 6,000 pounds ($7,700) each.

Central Criminal Court jurors convicted the pair, together with Wayne Bath, Albert Letchford, Leonard Powell and Alfie Powell after a nine-week trial. Another man, George Powell, pleaded guilty earlier.

Investigators say the gang was dangerously incompetent and tried to cross the busy shipping channel at night without lights, radar or maritime experience.

Authorities moved in to stop the gang before the jet ski could be used.

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1:15 p.m.

European Union law enforcement agency Europol says Spain's National Police have arrested seven people suspected of smuggling hundreds of migrants into France.

Europol says Tuesday the well-organized gang is believed to have brought about 300 migrants from French-speaking African countries to northern Spain and from there to France.

The U.N. Migration Agency says almost 24,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Spain by sea this year — nearly three times the number last year.

The agency says Spain has become the most popular European destination for Mediterranean migrants, with just over 40 percent of the total.

Overall, the agency says almost 60,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea this year — a drop of just over half compared with last year.

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