Aug. 2, 2021 a boat overcrowded with migrants is waiting to be rescued by Sea Watch 3 in the Mediterranean sea. Italy on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, pressed fellow EU nations to open their ports to migrants rescued by European humanitarian ships (AP Photo)
A German charity boat carrying 257 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean docked Saturday in Sicily after Italian authorities granted permission, and hours later a French humanitarian vessel with 549 migrants aboard received a similar port assignment.
After several days in limbo at sea, Sea-Watch 3 sailed into port at Trapani, western Sicily. Among the migrants aboard were 70 minors, some traveling without adults while trying to reach Europe. Health workers were administering COVID-19 tests to the migrants.
The German maritime rescue group Sea-Watch said Italian authorities assigned the ship a port on Friday after sea conditions in the central Mediterranean deteriorated.
Italy appealed to the European Union this week to press fellow EU nations to take some of the thousands of asylum-seekers who have arrived in the country in recent months, a sharp uptick since 2020. But similar past appeals for EU solidarity largely went unheeded, and there was no immediate signal the Italian government's latest pitch would prove more effective.
A French charity, SOS Mediterranee, said Saturday that Italy had granted port permission to the Ocean Viking, which is carrying 549 passengers, including a 3-month-old infant, who were rescued in six separate operations this week. The Viking was expected to arrive at the port of Pozzallo, Sicily, on Sunday.
The Italian coast guard had taken one migrant off the boat for medical reasons on Friday night, the fourth such evacuation from the Ocean Viking in recent days.
Amid the influx, Italian right-wing leader Matteo Salvini, whose anti-migrant League party is a member of the country's wide-ranging governing coalition, is insisting that Premier Mario Draghi act decisively to stem the flow of migrants arriving on Italy's shores.