The humanitarian rescue ship Aita Mari disembarked 50 migrants in the Sicilian port of Augusta on June 1. All COVID tests from the migrants on board resulted negative, said the organization that runs the ship.
"Update! The disembarkation of 50 people has been completed without incident. All the COVID tests from the survivors on board resulted negative," said the Spanish organization Salvamento Maritimo Humanitario (SMH) on its Twitter feed @Maydayterraneo on Tuesday, June 1, after it disembarked the 50 migrants in the port of Augusta, Sicily.
The organization was told it could disembark in Sicily on Monday, May 31.
'Their faces went from fearful to sometimes happy'
The pictures posted by SMH show a group of smiling young men who looked like they mostly came from North African countries, holding their thumbs up and squinting up at the camera. The organization tweeted in Italian: "we spent five days with those rescued. That was enough time to see their faces go from fearful to sometimes happy, and for them to express their gratitude for being rescued. Welcome to the European Union. Hopefully luck stays with you in this new life you are about to start."
On board the Aita Mari, according to the regional Italian newspaper La Sicilia, were 50 migrants including four unaccompanied minors. A first health screening resulted in negative COVID tests but the adults and accompanied minros were then transferred to a quarantine ship for the mandatory quarantine period, reported La Sicilia.
After other disembarkations, the unaccompanied minors are normally transferred to a center specially designed for them.
According to the German press agency epd, the migrants had set off from Libya before being rescued five days ago.
The Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi met with Libya's transitional Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah on Monday evening in Rome. The two leaders talked about the migration situation, and epd said Draghi underlined the fact that Libya had a "moral duty to guarantee the rights of migrants and refugees."
Italy and the EU have been supporting the Libyan coast guard for several years now with finances and training so that they can intercept migrants attempting to make the crossing and return them to Libya. It is a practice that is heavily criticized by many international organizations, including the UN Migration Agency IOM, which says that Libya cannot be considered a safe place to which migrants can be returned.
Dangerous migratory route
The central Mediterranean route is one of the most dangerous migration routes at the moment. According to the IOM’s Missing Migrants project, which tracks deaths along migratory routes, 640 people have lost their lives in the central Mediterranean since the start of this year. 773 people have died across the whole Mediterranean in the same time period.
The numbers of deaths this year are already about 4.5 times the numbers recorded in the same period in 2020 and are the greatest number of deaths recorded in that period since 2017 when sadly 1,642 migrants are thought to have lost their lives in the central Mediterranean.
According to Missing Migrants, in 2021, there have already been 20,647 attempted crossings since the beginning of the year which means the proportion of deaths to attempted crossings stands at 3.1%. Last year in the same time period it stood at 1.1%. The majority of those who have lots their lives so far this year are thought to have originated in sub-Saharan Africa. People from that region also lost their lives in the greatest proportion last year too.