On Sunday, the Ocean Viking ship with 549 migrants on board arrived in the port of Pozzallo in Southeastern Sicily. The ship’s crew had to wait several days before the Italian authorities determined where it could anchor. Citing a spokesman for SOS Méditerranée, the DPA agency reported on the ship’s arrival.
Already on Saturday, the Sea-Watch 3 ship arrived in the port of Trapani on the West Sicilian coast with almost 260 refugees.
The crews of both ships have been rescuing migrants at sea in recent weeks as refugees from the shores of North Africa, mainly Libya and Tunisia, set sail for the European Union in overcrowded vessels. The Italian Coast Guard had to take over a significant number of migrants from the Ocean Viking because they were in poor health. They suffered from seasickness or were exhausted, and the crew onboard was running out of medicine.
According to organizations that help migrants, more than 1,100 people have drowned in the Mediterranean this year. Humanitarian organizations state more than 14,000 migrants have been returned to Libya by the Libyan Coast Guard, in violation of international law. This year, the Italian Ministry of the Interior registered about 30,300 migrants who arrived in Italy by sea. That is approximately twice the number compared to the same period last year. The migrants’ destination is the Italian island of Lampedusa, which lies between Tunisia and Malta. Italy claims that the EU has left the country in the lurch amid the migration crisis. At a special meeting of interior ministers, Italy wants to push through a proposal that would make other states accept refugees, the DPA agency reported.
Title image: A rescue boat full of migrants heads back to the Ocean Viking after a rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. The humanitarian rescue ship Ocean Viking saved 109 people from two unseaworthy boats. (AP Photo/Renata Brito)