Over 120 migrants rescued by NGO ships disembark in Italy
December 04 2019 05:41 PM


Two charity vessels brought on Wednesday a total of 121 migrants rescued from the central Mediterranean to two ports in Sicily, Italy.

Some 61 people disembarked in Messina, in north-east Sicily, from the Alan Kurdi, a vessel ran by German charity Sea-Eye which originally picked up 84 people in two November 28 rescue operations.

The number of people aboard the Alan Kurdi went down after several urgent evacuations for medical or humanitarian reasons.

‘We don't understand why the ship, despite an alleged agreement for distribution, had to wait so long for a safe port,’ Sea-Eye wrote on Twitter.

On Monday, the Sea-Eye reported that two people aboard had ‘collapsed unconscious,’ and criticised the delay in allowing the ship to reach an Italian or Maltese port.

Meanwhile, the Ocean Viking, another vessel run by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), took 60 migrants to Pozzallo, in Sicily's south.

According to the ANSA news agency, three of the Ocean Viking migrants were hospitalised. One had a broken ankle, another head injuries and the third a hip problem.

The Italian Interior Ministry announced that the two charity ships had been authorised to reach Sicily late on Tuesday, after an EU burden-sharing deal.

‘Some European countries, including France and Germany, have already shown willingness to accept migrant quotas,’ the ministry said in a statement.

Italy and Malta usually refuse to open their ports to charity rescue vessels unless other EU countries agree to take in some of the migrants.

The negotiation of burden-sharing arrangements can be time-consuming and leaves migrants stranded at sea until a deal is struck. The process is normally coordinated by the European Commission.

In September, Malta, Italy, France and Germany suggested fixed rules for migrant relocations, to speed up procedures, but the proposal has failed to win wider EU endorsement.

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