By FRANCES D’EMILIO, Associated Press
ROME (AP) – A German humanitarian ship with more than 800 rescued migrants, including 15 very young children, entered a Sicilian port on Sunday after obtaining permission from Italian authorities after days of waiting in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Sea-Eye charity group said the Sea-Eye 4 ship was assigned to the port of Trapani in western Sicily on Saturday evening. Most adults were to be transferred to other ships for preventive quarantine against COVID-19, while some 160 minors, including babies and other children under 4, were to be taken to shelters on shore .
Many of the passengers came from West African countries, Egypt or Morocco, said Giovanna di Benedetto, a Save the Children official in Italy.
Shouts of joy from those aboard the Sea-Eye 4 could be heard from the Trapani quay as the ship approached, SkyTG24 TV reported.
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About half of the migrants were rescued from a sinking wooden boat on November 4, while the other passengers were pulled out of the sea in separate operations.
Sea-Eye officials lamented that Malta, a European Union island nation in the central Mediterranean, failed to respond to the wooden boat’s distress signal in its own search area.
Meanwhile, another charity ship, the Ocean Viking, with 306 migrants on board, many of whom feel sick in rough seas, was still awaiting assignment from a port near Lampedusa, a small Italian island in the south. from Sicily, said the humanitarian organization SOS Mediterranean, which operates The boat.
Earlier Sunday, in the waters off Lampedusa, an Italian coastguard boat stopped alongside Ocean Viking to evacuate two brothers, both minors, whose health had worsened, a tweeted SOS Mediterranean. Four others were evacuated on Saturday.
On Saturday, Sea-Eye 4 received a delivery of food and blankets while waiting to find out where the migrants could disembark. Medics aboard the Sea-Eye 4 had treated 25 people for hypothermia, seasickness and high blood pressure, as well as injuries consistent with torture.
UN refugee agencies have long denounced the practice of torture in detention camps in Libya, where migrants live, often for weeks or months, until human traffickers organize their passage aboard fragile boats.
The number of migrants crossing the dangerous central Mediterranean has increased this year to over 54,000. Yet the numbers are significantly lower than in 2014-2017, when 120,000 to 180,000 people reached Italy each year, often in rickety smuggler ships.
Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration
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