The Latest: Libya lawmakers cool on Italy's migrant mission

The Latest: Libya lawmakers cool on Italy's migrant mission

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The Latest on asylum-seekers and refugees in Europe (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

The Libyan parliament has voiced strong opposition to the planned deployment of Italian navy vessels to Libya's territorial waters to help the coast guard curb the flow of migrants.

The parliament based in eastern Libya warned that such a move would be "exporting the illegal migration crisis to Libya" by sending migrants stopped at sea back to Libya.

The parliament also criticized the U.N.-recognized, Tripoli-based government of Prime Minister Fayez Serraj of striking the deal with the Italians.

Serraj's government has denied that, although Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni said his Libyan counterpart requested help from Italy's navy.

Hundreds of thousands of migrants are brought to Italy each year after embarking from Libya in unseaworthy smugglers' boats.

The parliament in Tobruk says having a foreign navy's vessels patrolling Libyan waters would be a "violation to the sovereignty of Libya."


6:15 p.m.

Dozens of children from refugee camps around Athens have performed at the ancient Herodes Atticus theater as part of a global initiative to teach music to children from low-income families.

The children gave an hour-long performance at the renovated 1,800-year old stone amphitheater, which is located in the Greek capital at the foot of the ancient Acropolis.

Most of the children came from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan

One singer, 12-year-old Gamkin Abdo said before going on stage Tuesday night: "I feel good when I am going to the concert. It's good, and when I sing I feel, better,"

The performance was part of a three-hour concert organized by El Sistema, a music education program founded in Venezuela that has been adopted in more than 50 countries.


5:25 p.m.

Italian authorities are holding a German group's migrant rescue boat suspected of aiding "clandestine immigration.

The 33-meter (100 foot) long, Dutch-flagged Iuventa vessel sequestered in a Sicilian port on Wednesday is operated by migrant rescue group Jugend Rettet.

The prosecutor in Trapani, Sicily, ordered the boat put under preventative seizure at Lampedusa island as Italian authorities investigate what they suspect could be aiding "clandestine immigration."

Jugend Rettet tweeted the boat's crew was interviewed, which has happened previously in Lampedusa. It said it had not received any information about being the target of an investigation.


4:15 p.m.

Italian lawmakers have voted to approve having Italian military vessels help Libya's coast guard stop migrant smuggling boats from leaving Libya for European shores.

Italy's defense minister insisted before Wednesday's vote in Parliament that the mission won't be a naval blockade, although lawmakers from the anti-migrant Northern League, an opposition party, demanded exactly that.

With several EU nations refusing to accept even a small fraction of asylum-seekers to help ease Italy's burden, Italians' patience for the steady arrival of migrants rescued at sea appears to be wearing thin. Hundreds of thousands of people, most of them economic migrants ineligible for asylum, have been brought ashore in Italy after rescue in the last few years.

The migrant crisis looms as a campaign issue in 2018 elections.


4 p.m.

Migrants and refugees briefly blocked traffic near the Germany embassy in Athens to protest delays in family reunions for migrants living in Greece.

Some 60,000 refugees and migrants remain in camps in Greece following European transit restrictions imposed last year. Many want to reunite with relatives who found their way to Germany.

Citing a huge backlog of claims, German authorities have restricted reunification procedures until March next year.

Protesters briefly scuffled with police Wednesday in Athens outside the German embassy, but no arrests were made.

Nadja Mohamed, a Syrian Kurd from near the civil war-ravaged city of Aleppo, told The AP: "I have seven children and four of them are in Germany. I want my children to be together."

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