Richard Gere visits migrants stranded in Mediterranean for more than a week

Richard Gere visits migrants stranded in Mediterranean for more than a week

Richard Gere visits migrants stranded in Mediterranean for more than a week

On August 5, the Italian government won a vote on a decree drawn up by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, which raised the maximum fine for ships that enter Italian waters without authorization to €1 million, and provided for the arrest of sea captains who ignored warnings to stay away.

First rejected by Malta and then by Italy, the boat has been waiting since last week off the island of Lampedusa to be assigned a safe harbor for the 121 migrants rescued at sea in two rescue operations.

The Pretty Woman star carried fruit boxes on board and spoke to migrants who fled war-torn Libya on smuggling boats that failed to make it across the Mediterranean before they were rescued.

The NGO says Malta also refused to let the ship in, while Spain demurred saying it is not the closest safe port. The EU Commission only intervenes at the request of a national government.

He praised the work of the volunteers onboard the Open Arm ship who had rescued the migrants from the sea and provided them with food, shelter and care.

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Gere has a long history of human rights activism and has been banned from China for advocating for Tibet.

69-year-old Gere got involved with the rescue mission after seeing news about the boat's plight, according to a spokeswoman for the Open Arms charity, who made a statement to AP.

Two days later Gere was on Lampedusa, helping load a boat with supplies.

"The most important thing for these people here is to be able to get to a free port, to get off the boat, to get on land and start a new life", Gere said.

Italian authorities in particular have been at odds with humanitarian groups that pick up migrants off the coast of Libya with the aim of bringing them to Italy, preventing them from docking until other European Union countries agree to take in majority. Additionally, 840 people have died this year on the risky Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe.

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