The Open Arms vessel with 107 migrants on board is anchored off the Sicilian vacation and fishing island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Open Arms on Monday suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain the migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat since early August, to end a stalemate with the Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)

ROME (AP) — The Spanish rescue ship Open Arms resorted to serving pizzas to 107 increasingly angry and sometimes aggressive migrants who are stranded aboard, as Italy's interior minister stuck to his refusal to let the vessel dock at a nearby Italian island in a weekslong standoff.

The migrants were rescued from traffickers' boats in the Mediterranean off Libya and have spent 18 days aboard the Open Arms as they wait to see whether anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini will let them disembark on Lampedusa, a tiny Italian island south of Sicily. Six other European Union countries have agreed to take the passengers.

A day earlier, Open Arms' captain informed Italian authorities that the crew of 17 could no longer control the situation aboard, as frustrated migrants resort to fighting.

Separately, the organization's founder, Oscar Camps, told The Associated Press in a phone interview Monday night from Lampedusa, that "it is not a question of how long we can hold out. No one knows what will happen."

"At every instant we must stop fights, aggression, arguments, hunger strikes and stop people from jumping into the sea," exactly like several migrants did a day earlier in a foiled bid to reach the island, he said.

When the migrants were brought back aboard, major fights broke out among the passengers "because they had put the others at risk," Camps added.

In a bid to vary the migrants' food and improve their mood, some of the crew went to the island and returned with 100 pizzas, Camps said. "We have tried everything" to keep spirits calm, he added.

Asked if Open Arms might follow the example of a German captain who defied Salvini's ban and steered a boat packed with migrants to Lampedusa this summer, Camps said he would not.

"We have no intention in disobeying, we have scrupulously compiled with maritime law," he said.

The German captain was arrested but later released after an Italian judge ruled that she was saving the lives of the 40 migrants aboard.

Open Arms sailed within a few hundred meters of Lampedusa last week after winning a court ruling overturning Salvini's ban on private rescue boats entering Italy's territorial waters. Salvini has appealed that ruling and warned that the ban on docking still holds.

The boat is currently anchored off Lampedusa's coast.

Camps said Italy's coast guard offered to transport some of the migrants to Spain, but Open Arms insisted they must take everyone aboard.

Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, whose ministry includes the coast guard, said Italy also offered to escort Open Arms to a Spanish port, but the ship "incredibly refused" that offer, too.

Earlier in the day, Open Arms' president, Riccardo Gatti, suggested that the migrants could be transferred to the major Sicilian city of Catania, where a chartered plane could then fly the 107 migrants to Spain.

Open Arms captain Marc Reig Creus told Italian authorities Sunday that if Italy won't let the ship dock at Lampedusa, it would agree to transferring the migrants to another boat that could make the several days' journey to the port Spain had initially proposed, Algeciras, at the far west end of the Mediterranean.

Open Arms has only two toilets, and last week volunteers who visited the ship said some migrants were forced to use areas where they eat for their bathroom needs.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said the government had offered to help the Open Arms with food, fuel and medical attention for the journey to Spain.

"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."

Camps, in explaining the refusal, 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" for a four-day journey, he said, calling conditions on the ship "inhuman."

Earlier on Monday, Open Arms nixed a follow-up offer by Spain to go to a closer port in the Balearic Islands.

Salvini's popularity is soaring among his voter base, which blames illegal migrants for crime.

"Why doesn't Open Arms go to Spain?" he tweeted. "In 18 days, they could have gone back and forth three times from Ibiza and Formentera," two Balearic islands.

Last week, 40 migrants and some family members were allowed to leave Open Arms because they were deemed to be minors, ailing or psychologically troubled.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian-flagged Ocean Viking, which is operated by two French humanitarian groups and has 356 rescued migrants aboard, has been sailing between Malta and the Italian island of Linosa as it waits for a port of safety to be assigned

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Brito reported from Barcelona, Spain. Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Lorne Cook and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed.

Open Arms founder Oscar Camps is interviewed by reporters on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. While Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini stuck to his refusal to let the Open Arms rescue ship dock on the Italian island of Lampedusa, just a few hundred meters (yards) away from where it is anchored, the charity countered by suggesting that a plane be chartered to fly the 107 migrants left on the boat to Spain. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
Migrantes en la cubierta del buque humanitario español Open Arms en la costa de la isla siciliana de Lampedusa, Italia, el domingo 17 de agosto de 2019. (AP Foto/Francisco Gentico)
Two people on a scooter stop to look out at the Open Arms vessel, with 107 migrants on board, anchored off the Sicilian vacation and fishing island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Open Arms on Monday suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain the migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat since early August, to end a stalemate with the Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
An Italian Finance Police vessel patrols around the Open Arms vessel, left, with 107 migrants on board, as it is anchored off the Sicilian vacation and fishing island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Open Arms on Monday suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain the migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat since early August, to end a stalemate with the Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
A migrant disembarks from an Italian Finance police patrol boat at the port of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. According to reports, a small vessel carrying more than 30 migrants was intercepted in the waters off Lampedusa and rescued by the Finance Police. 107 migrants are still on board a Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel anchored off Lampedusa because Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
Migrants rescued by an Italian Finance police patrol boat sit in the ship as it docks in the port of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. According to reports, a small vessel carrying more than 30 migrants was intercepted in the waters off Lampedusa and rescued by the Finance Police. 107 migrants are still on board a Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel anchored off Lampedusa because Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
A migrant rescued by an Italian Finance police patrol boat is accompanied after disembarking in the port of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. According to reports, a small vessel carrying more than 30 migrants was intercepted in the waters off Lampedusa and rescued by the Finance Police. 107 migrants are still on board a Spanish NGO Open Arms vessel anchored off Lampedusa because Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
Some of migrant minors allowed to disembark the Open Arms vessel, anchored off the Sicilian vacation and fishing island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, wait to be taken to the Sicilian port of Porto Empedocle from Lampedusa, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. The boat, which Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini won't let into port, initially had 147 migrants aboard when it reached Italian waters but in the last few days, 40 migrants have transferred by Italian coast guard vessels to Lampedusa, including a few who were ailing and 27 believed to be minors. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
People on a ferry boat look at the Open Arms vessel, with 107 migrants on board, anchored off the Sicilian vacation and fishing island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Open Arms on Monday suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain the migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat since early August, to end a stalemate with the Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
The Open Arms vessel with 107 migrants on board is anchored off the Sicilian vacation and fishing island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Open Arms on Monday suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain the migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat since early August, to end a stalemate with the Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
The Open Arms vessel with 107 migrants on board is anchored off the Sicilian vacation and fishing island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. Open Arms on Monday suggested chartering a plane to fly to Spain the migrants blocked off the coast of Italy aboard its boat since early August, to end a stalemate with the Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini, who won't let private rescue boats into his nation's ports. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)
The Open Arms vessel with 107 migrants on board is anchored off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, southern Italy, Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. The migrants, taken to safety in early August from traffickers' foundering dinghies off Libya, have been aboard the Open Arms vessel as long as 18 days while Italian Interior minister Matteo Salvini refuses to relent on his refusal to let the ship dock at the island of Lampedusa. (AP Photo/Salvatore Cavalli)