The Spanish rescue organization Proactiva Open Arms rescued 365 migrants in the Central Mediterranean in several operations last week. After receiving permission to disembark, 363 people stepped ashore in the Italian town of Pozzallo on Sunday. Two migrants had been evacuated earlier for medical reasons.
363 migrants rescued by the Open Arms vessel between Monday and Thursday last week disembarked in Pozzallo, Italy, on Sunday. Two migrants had been evacuated earlier for medical reasons. Red Cross personnel, officials from the Italian Ministry of Health and volunteers from various charitable organizations in Sicily lined up near the gangway at the port of Pozzallo to receive the arriving migrants. Video footage shows that most personnel wore white hazard suits, masks and gloves.
The health checks, writes the news agency AFP, were "more stringent after Italy on Friday declared a state of emergency to fight transmission of a new Coronavirus." AFP quoted the head of the regional health agency in Italy, Raffaele Elia, who stated that "three different [health] controls were performed, the first on board, and the following two after disembarkation."
Tested for coronavirus
363 migrants from several different countries, including Bangladesh and Sudan, set foot on solid ground, according to a spokesperson from Open Arms, and they were tested for Coronavirus with an infrared temperature gauge and then given a pair of sliders to wear on their feet.The Spanish organization Open Arms made five different rescues during this, its 75th mission. In all, they tweeted, they rescued 365 lives but two were evacuated before they were directed to land in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo. Open Arms placed a video of the disembarkation on Twitter. "I hope Europe treats you well," the crew wrote to the group it delivered to Italy. "Despite all the difficulties, the effort is worth it."
Attempt to disembark in Malta fails
The ship originally set sail on January 26 and tweeted on the evening of January 31 that they were looking for a "safe harbor where to disembark as soon as possible." They first tried Malta but said they were refused. AFP reports that Malta had issued its refusal, "despite having signed a deal with Italy, France and Germany last September intended to avoid drawn-out negotiations on where migrants will dock." Then Italy sent word that they could land there.
Open Arms is a non-governmental, non-profit organization. Their main mission is "to protect, by having a presence at sea, those people who try to reach Europe fleeing from war, persecution or poverty." As well as carrying out rescues and patrols in the Central Mediterranean and the Aegean they also try to raise awareness about the stories of the people they rescue, in order to demonstrate that these people "are not just numbers but people with a voice and a story to tell."
Increasing numbers seeking to cross Mediterranean
This latest disembarkation comes hot on the heels of two more private rescue ships last week, the Alan Kurdi and Ocean Viking, which disembarked over 400 migrants in Italy.The migrants will be taken in by several different EU countries, including Germany and France. According to a German language report on the European news channel Euronews, the EU's Commissioner for foreign affairs Josep Borrell, in an internal report, is thought to have said that the worsening security situation in Libya could lead to many more migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the future.