Italy gives safe port to 558 migrants rescued at sea

Migrants look on as they arrive aboard the rescue vessel Sea-Eye 4 in the port of Pozzallo, southern Sicily, on Dec 24, 2021. (GIOVANNI ISOLINO / AFP)

CATANIA, Italy – Italy on Tuesday allowed a charity boat carrying hundreds of migrants rescued at sea to dock in the Sicilian port of Augusta, with another vessel waiting offshore for permission to bring 440 more to land.

The Geo Barents ship, run by charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), took onboard 558 people, mainly Africans, in eight separate operations off the coast of Libya in the last 11 days, the charity said.

The Geo Barents ship, run by charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), took onboard 558 people, mainly Africans, in eight separate operations off the coast of Libya in the last 11 days, the charity said

They include 174 minors and a woman who is eight months pregnant.

The German charity boat Sea Watch 3 is also seeking a port to disembark 440 migrants it rescued in recent days in the Mediterranean, including women and young children.

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"The weather deteriorates … Everyone has the right to disembark, now," Sea Watch wrote on Twitter.

Italy has seen a sharp increase in boat migrants in recent months with the government struggling to secure an agreement with European Union partners over how to deal with the influx.

As of Dec 28, 66,482 migrants have reached Italy so far this year against 34,134 in the same period of 2020, interior ministry data show.

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