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  1. ITV Report

Italy allows child migrants to disembark rescue vessel highlighted by Hollywood actor Richard Gere

The Open Arms rescued the migrants two weeks ago. Credit: AP

Italy’s interior minister has appeared to buckle under pressure amid the political stand-off over a migrant rescue ship with 134 people aboard, saying he will allow minors to disembark after being at sea for two weeks.

It follows after Hollywood star Richard Gere met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in a bid to save the ship full of migrants.

Premier Giuseppe Conte had written a second letter to his interior minister Matteo Salvini demanding that the 27 minors be allowed off the boat.

Mr Salvini said he would permit the move but making it clear it was Mr Conte’s choice and that it would not set a precedent.

It is not clear how many youngsters are on board the Open Arms, or when the disembarkation might begin.

The Pretty Woman actor spoke to many on the rescue ship and served meals to the migrants, just over a week ago.

He said: "Everyone is doing okay now, they were on two boats in the middle of the ocean, one of the boats was turned back and taken by the Libyan navy, we don't know what happened to them."

"The people that you see here on the boat, are only here because of Open Arms, now the most important thing for these people is to be able to get off the boat and to a port and get on land, and start a new life," he added.

Spanish aid group Open Arms had rescued the migrants in the Mediterranean near Libya two weeks ago, and won a legal battle to enter Italy’s territorial waters despite a ban by Mr Salvini preventing humanitarian aid groups from docking.

Richard Gere speaks to the humanitarian volunteers aboard the Open Arms rescue ship. Credit: AP

The ship has been off Italy’s coast waiting to disembark after Spain and five other European Union nations agreed to take them in.

The stand-off laid bare the split between Mr Salvini’s anti-migrant League and the 5-Star Movement, which together govern Italy.

Mr Salvini is seeking to end Mr Conte’s populist coalition with a no-confidence vote and early election that he hopes will give him the premiership.

Italian interior minister Matteo Salvini has agreed that minors can disembark from the Open Arms migrants boat Credit: AP

Open Arms chief Oscar Camps warned on Saturday that the group cannot guarantee the safety of the migrants anymore, as tensions are rising and fights breaking out.

He warned European leaders that as of Saturday, "we cannot be responsible nor guarantee the security of the people on board Open Arms".

Amid the stand-off, the aid group filed a formal complaint with prosecutors in Sicily alleging that both the migrants and the crew are being held hostage.