Rescue ship “ocean viking”: italy lets refugees ashore

The ship "Ocean Viking" had rescued over 80 people from distress at sea. Now the refugees can disembark in Italy. The UN hopes for further support.

Can now disembark: refugees on the rescue ship "Ocean Viking" Photo: ap

The 82 migrants on the rescue ship "Ocean Viking" in the Mediterranean Sea are allowed to land in Italy. "The Ocean Viking has just received instructions from the coordinating sea rescue center in Rome to sail to Lampedusa, Italy. This has been designated as a safe place for the 82 survivors of the last two rescue missions," the aid organization SOS Mediterranee wrote on Twitter Saturday morning.

The ship, operated by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders, had initially rescued 50 people last Sunday. After that, it took over another 34 boat refugees that the organization Resqship had previously rescued from distress at sea. Only two people, a heavily pregnant woman and her husband, have so far been allowed off the boat and taken to Malta.

UN Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi welcomed the latest development. "Hopefully this is another step towards a much-needed predictable disembarkation agreement supported by a number of European countries," Grandi wrote on Twitter. French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner wrote that an "ad hoc European agreement" had been reached for the Ocean Viking between Italy, France, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg.

The former Italian government of populist Five Star Movement and right-wing Lega, which broke up in August, had distinguished itself by a very tough stance against migrants. Lega leader Matteo Salvini was replaced as interior minister by top official Luciana Lamorgese.

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