Italy allows women, children off rescue ship

AFP , Thursday 29 Aug 2019

Women and children stuck on a charity rescue vessel in the Mediterranean will be allowed into Italy, the interior ministry said Thursday, though a ban on the ship entering Italian waters remains.

"Women, children and sick people will be allowed off the Mare Jonio," the ministry said in reference to the ship run by Mediterranea Saving Humans which had picked up some 100 migrants on Wednesday.

Those pulled to safety included 22 small children and 26 women -- eight of whom are pregnant -- who had survived their foundering dinghy being pummelled by a wave fellow occupants said drowned six people.

"The ban on (the vessel) entering Italian waters remains," the ministry said.

Hardline interior minister Matteo Salvini on Wednesday forbade the Mare Jonio from approaching the Italian coast, although he was effectively out of a job after Giuseppe Conte was asked to form a new government on Thursday.

Italy has repeatedly refused to allow charity vessels to dock until other EU nations agree to take in the migrants on them while Salvini was in power for the last 14 months.

Another charity vessel, the Eleonore, run by German charity Mission Lifeline, rescued 100 or so migrants earlier this week but has also been refused entry.

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