Women, children and frail people were allowed to disembark from the Mare Jonio on August 29, 2019 |  Photo: Mediterranea Saving Humans
Women, children and frail people were allowed to disembark from the Mare Jonio on August 29, 2019 | Photo: Mediterranea Saving Humans

The Italian government has allowed women, children and sick people on board the private Mare Jonio rescue vessel to disembark. However, about one third of the migrants picked up by the charity boat on Wednesday remain on board.

The Italian coast guard helped transfer 64 people from the rescue boat to the island of Lampedusa on Thursday as Italy continued to ban private rescue ships from entering Italian waters.

"The ban ... remains in place for a ship that does not respect laws and intentionally provokes a state of necessity on board so as to be able to disembark in Italy," a source close to the Italian Interior Ministry said as 34 other migrants remained on board. Among the migrants allowed to come ashore were 22 children under the age of ten and 26 women, at least eight of whom were reportedly pregnant.

The Mare Jonio, operated by Italian charity Mediterranea Saving Humans, had picked up about 100 migrants sinking on a rubber dinghy some 130 kilometers north of the Libyan port of Misrata on Wednesday.

In a video shared on Twitter, the organization showed the exhausted migrants after they arrived on land.

Situation on board remains precarious

The charity has called on the Italian government to allow the remaining migrants on board the ship and its crew to disembark as well, saying the situation on board remained unsafe.

"Let's get them all ashore," the organization tweeted, adding that with waves of more than two meters in height those remaining on board were feeling seasick in rough seas.

Italy's hardline government under outgoing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in Rome had banned private rescue boats like the Mare Jonio from entering an Italian port. The Mare Jonio is currently located just off Italian territorial waters near the island of Lampedusa.

 

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