Two migrant children are carried off the Ocean Viking ship by aid workers in Taranto, Italy, on January 29, 2020 | Photo: ANSA
Two migrant children are carried off the Ocean Viking ship by aid workers in Taranto, Italy, on January 29, 2020 | Photo: ANSA

Among the migrants that disembarked from the Ocean Viking in Italy on Wednesday were 149 minors. Many of them experienced terrible things on their migration journeys, in particular in Libya, they told aid workers.

When the 403 migrants rescued by the NGO ship Ocean Viking were allowed to disembark in Taranto, Italy, on Wednesday, a nightmare finally came to an end for many of the rescuees. Many of them experienced terrible things in Libya, before they set off on a high-risk journey across the Mediterranean Ocean on dilapidated vessels in the middle of winter. Among those rescued were 149 minors; 132 of whom were there without their families. 

"We call them migrants," said Alessandro Porro, a rescue worker from Taranto for SOS Mediterranée, which runs the Ocean Viking, "but they are people who are fleeing a dangerous situation... Libya, for example, is not a safe country."

Migrant women raped in Libyan detention centers

Among those welcoming the migrants in Taranto were workers from Save the Children. A spokesperson for the aid organization said: "The accounts [given by the migrants] show once more an out-of-control situation in [Libya] and the horrors of detention centers."

According to Save the Children, two young girls -- aged only 4 and 6 -- aboard the Ocean Viking were traveling only with their 17-year-old sister, because their mother had been lost without a trace in Libya. And a 16-year-old Somali girl told aid workers that she had been repeatedly raped in Libyan detention centers, where "young women are subjected to repeated torture and rape." Several young migrants reportedly showed symptoms of tuberculosis. 

Willing to host migrants: Germany, France, Romania, Ireland, Luxembourg
 
The Italian interior ministry is currently in talks with its EU partners to activate a mechanism to redistribute the migrants disembarked by the Ocean Viking. Because there are so many people to relocate, the talks have reportedly been more complicated than in previous cases. Germany, France, Romania, Ireland, and Luxembourg have said they are willing to take in some of the migrants. 
 

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