The Latest: Migrants head to Italy after standoff

The Latest on migrant issues in Europe (all times local):

8:35 p.m.

An aid group is bringing a boat with 105 migrants to Sicily after a bureaucratic standoff by the Italian coast guard left the migrants exposed to the elements for over a day.

The group SOS Mediterranee said Wednesday the passengers include 34 minors, including six children under 13, from nine countries.

The migrants were rescued Sunday off Libya by the Spanish group Proactiva Open Arms, which hosted them on deck aboard their 30-foot (nine-meter) sailboat Astral.

The group asked to transfer them to the bigger and more stable Aquarius ship of the SOS Mediterranee group, but the Italians argued that authorization had to come from British authorities since both ships were British-flagged. British authorities insisted they weren't coordinating the rescue.

As night fell Tuesday, the Italians finally agreed to the transfer.


12:40 p.m.

Germany's Cabinet has approved new rules that will allow migrants granted limited protection to apply for family members to join them, more than two years after such reunions were suspended.

Under the rules set to take effect in August, a maximum 1,000 close relatives per month will be allowed in to join migrants granted "subsidiary protection," which falls short of full asylum. Family reunions were a hard-fought issue in negotiations earlier this year to form a new German government.

The government said Wednesday that migrants won't be legally entitled to be joined by close relatives — spouses, children under 18, or the parents of migrants under 18 — and authorities will make case-by-case decisions on humanitarian grounds.

People who married after fleeing their homeland won't be able to seek spouses' admission.


12:15 p.m.

Greek police say they have rescued 50 migrants who had been held hostage in northern Greece, allegedly by two Pakistani men who were extorting their families for money.

Police said Wednesday many of the rescued men were in bad physical condition, having been given minimal food and water. One man required hospitalization for pneumonia and dehydration.

The migrants — 38 Pakistanis, 10 Bangladeshis and two Sri Lankans — had been held in a complex of abandoned buildings east of the city of Thessaloniki, where most had been brought six days ago, although some were more recent arrivals. Authorities were alerted to their plight by relatives who received demands for money for them to be released.

Two Pakistani men were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and blackmail, among other charges.