On Thursday evening, the Italian authorities announced they had assigned the Sardinian port of Olbia as a "safe harbor" in which the humanitarian rescue ship Alan Kurdi could disembark the remaining 125 migrants on board.
After nearly a week at sea, the wait is about to come to an end for the remaining 125 migrants on board the Alan Kurdi. The Italian interior ministry on Thursday evening said they would be allowed to disembark in Sardinia.
"[The Alan Kurdi] is not a ship which is able to withstand rough seas," said Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
The Alan Kurdi, operated by the humanitarian rescue organization Sea-Eye, had taken on board 133 migrants from three different boats off the Libyan coast on Saturday and Sunday (September 19-20). Eight migrants were evacuated by Italian coast guards for medical reasons a few days after the rescue.
Requests met with silence
Earlier this week, the captain of the Alan Kurdi, operated by the humanitarian rescue organization Sea-Eye, had declared the ship would set sail for France and the port of Marseilles after the crew's requests for a safe harbor were either refused or met with silence by Italy and Malta.
Then, on Thursday, the promise of bad weather forced the Alan Kurdi ship to seek shelter just off the coast of Sardinia. The captain had already declared his intention to continue to ask the Italian and French authorities for safe harbors during the voyage towards France.
Searching for a solution
It appears the prospect of the arrival of the ship in France pushed the French authorities to start discussions with their Italian counterparts and the rest of the EU, until a solution was found.
The acting mayor of Marseilles had declared himself ready to welcome the ship but the French government noted that it was still the Italian’s responsibility to offer a safe harbor since the ship was in Italian waters when it made the request. They added that it would be a national decision whether or not to allow the migrants to disembark and they couldn't allow individual cities and towns to make that decision.
After much discussion, the port of Olbia on Sardinia’s northeast coast, was assigned as the safe harbor and 100 of the migrants will be redistributed to various European countries with 25 remaining in Italy.
'Yet another unfair blockade ended'
The organization Sea-Eye posted on Twitter their thanks at being able to head to Olbia. They said they expected to arrive at 6 am on Friday morning and stated "yet another unfair blockade has been ended."
The Alan Kurdi had been sheltering off the coast of Arbatax and is expected to arrive in Olbia on Friday morning, according to La Stampa. When they finally disembark, the migrants will be expected to undergo the statutory 14-day quarantine period before being sent to other European countries, stated minister Lamorgese.
According to the news agency Associated Press (AP), Lamorgese said that the migrants would be allowed to quarantine on an Italian ship. Lamorgese added that the government had offered the ship safe harbor "because the respect for human life is for us, as for everyone, the primary thing."
There are at least 50 minors still on board the ship, many of them unaccompanied. The crew of the Alan Kurdi told AP that the situation on board ship was "stable."