Migrants have jumped in the sea in a desperate attempt to reach an Italian island after being stranded on a boat for 19 days.

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The Open Arms humanitarian group said the Italian coastguard was trying to rescue nine people after another man had thrown himself in earlier in the day.

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He was rescued but refused to return to the ship, which has been involved in a stand-off with Italy as hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini refuses to allow it to dock.

Migrants try to swim ashore from Open Arms vessel near Italy

18 August: Migrants attempt to swim to shore in Italy

The migrants were trying to reach the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, only a few hundred metres away.

Spanish public broadcaster TVE, reporting from on board, said those jumping were “desperate and going mad”.

Footage shows people wearing orange life vests as a coastguard vessel and rubber dinghies try to reach them.

A similar incident happened a few days ago when four more people jumped in the sea and were chased down by the crew.

The ship’s captain previously warned that the situation was out of control and said some of the 107 migrants had begun to fight.

Those om board were rescued from the sea near Libya more than two weeks ago.

Migrants swim after jumping off the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, close to the Italian shore in Lampedusa, Italy
Spanish media say the migrants are ‘desperate and going mad’

Oscar Camps, the founder of Open Arms, said conditions on the ship were “inhuman” and visitors have reported that migrants have been forced to use areas where they eat for bathroom needs as there are only two toilets.

Six European countries have offered the ship a safe port, but Mr Salvini will not allow them to enter Italy.

Spain said at the weekend that the vessel could dock at one of its ports.

Open Arms said the journey would take too long and endanger lives because the situation was at breaking point.

Spain’s deputy prime minister, Carmen Calvo said the government had offered to help with resources such as food and fuel for the journey.

“We believe that once the migrants have peace of mind and know that they will navigate to a safe and open port, like the one Spain is offering, this situation will calm down,” she said.

“But the answer was that they [Open Arms] insist on entering Italy.”

The group that runs the boat says the situation on board is at breaking point
The founder of the Open Arms organisation says conditions on the boat are ‘inhuman’

Explaining their refusal, Mr Camps said: “We could have done it on Day 1 or 2, but not on Day 18 when we have exhausted our resources psychologically.”

“It can’t be fixed with a little food, fuel and pats on the back,” he said.

Last week, 40 migrants and some of their family members were allowed to leave the ship as they were believed to be minors, unwell or suffering with poor mental health.



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