102 migrants, including two pregnant women and a seven-month-old baby, were disembarked from the Aita Mari rescue ship at the Sicilian port of Augusta on Monday. They had all been rescued on Friday in the Mediterranean Sea.
"Welcome to Europe" were the words that the crew on board the Aita Mari uttered to 102 migrants on Saturday when they learned that Italy had authorized their disembarkation. There was immediate applause on board the humanitarian ship, as could be seen on a video published by the Spanish Maydayterraneo NGO, which charters the Aita Mari.
According to Aita Mari, 94 men, seven women — two of them pregnant — and a seven-month-old baby were rescued. The majority of the survivors were reportedly Somali nationals.
The boat docked on Sunday morning in the port of Augusta, however, those on board had to wait for more than 24 hours to disembark, according to Maydayterraneo spokesperson Daniel Rivas. It is unclear whether the wait was due to COVID-19 related precautions.
Potentially deadly weekend at sea
The 102 migrants were rescued on Friday, February 19 off the Libyan coast, but they were far from being the only people in need of rescue on the Mediterranean at the weekend. On Saturday and Sunday, 120 migrants landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa as well.
On Saturday, nearly 500 migrants were also intercepted at sea by Libya’s coastguard. They were all sent back to the war-torn country, according to reports on Twitter by Safa Msehli, spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In addition, a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Lampedusa as it was intercepted by the Italian coastguard. Around 45 people were rescued, with several others unaccounted for on Sunday.
This piece was adapted by Sertan Sanderson from the French original by Leslie Carretero