Migrants rest on the deck of Sea-Watch 3 after the crew carried out seven rescues, bringing 412 people on board | Photo: Valeria Mongelli / Picture-alliance/AP Photo
Migrants rest on the deck of Sea-Watch 3 after the crew carried out seven rescues, bringing 412 people on board | Photo: Valeria Mongelli / Picture-alliance/AP Photo

Late on Tuesday, October 19, the private rescue yacht Nadir was able to disembark the 34 migrants it had rescued almost two days before. Another 412 migrants are still waiting on board the Sea-Watch 3 ship to be assigned a safe port at which to disembark.

The Sicilian island of Lampedusa has seen hundreds of migrants disembark there in the last few days. Some arrived under their own steam, others were brought in after being rescued at sea. Late on Tuesday, October 19, it was the turn of 34 migrants who had been rescued almost two days earlier by the private rescue organization ResQship and their yacht Nadir.

The small sailing yacht is only meant to offer emergency help to people in danger at sea and is not equipped to host people on board for long periods of time, says the organization that operates it.

"Mixed with the relief is also disbelief," tweeted the organization Resqship. "How can the authorities have left so many people on board a ship which is only meant to provide emergency help?" they asked, referring to the arguments between Italy and Malta over who should offer a safe haven to the ship.

The ResQship team said the way European authorities handled their request for a safe harbor was "irresponsible," but that they would continue to try and make sure that no one drowns on the route to Europe.

Migrants huddle under blankets to keep warm on board the Sea-Watch 3 | Photo: Valeria Mongelli / Picture-alliance/AP Photo
Migrants huddle under blankets to keep warm on board the Sea-Watch 3 | Photo: Valeria Mongelli / Picture-alliance/AP Photo

Lampedusa arrivals

On October 18, the regional Italian newspaper La Sicilia reported that 222 migrants had arrived on the small island which is situated much nearer the north African coast than mainland Italy, or even Sicily.

When the 222 people arrived, there were reportedly already 329 people in the so-called "hotspot" or first welcome center on the island. Most of the arrivals on October 18 were of Tunisian origin, reported La Sicilia. Those who arrive will be transferred to the quarantine ship Gnv Atlas.

Waiting for a safe harbor

Meanwhile, the private rescue organization Sea-Watch is still calling for a safe port to allow for the disembarkation of the 412 migrants it has on board. On October 19, that organization reminded the European authorities via Twitter that they had "many children and minors" on board as well as "people with fuel burns."

Later that day, they reported that the Italian authorities evacuated three women with severe fuel burns from the ship but that the rest of the migrants were left waiting to know when and where they might be allowed to disembark.

The 412 people on board Sea-Watch 3 were rescued from several small boats. On October 18 for instance, the organization said it carried out "three more rescues in 24 hours." The series of seven rescues began on October 17 when Sea-Watch pulled "66 people from distress at sea after only a short time in the search and rescue zone."

A little later on that day, the crew took 54 people from a rubber boat in a second rescue operation. That boat had been spotted by their surveillance aircraft Seabird. According to the Seabird crew, that same day, they witnessed "two illegal pushbacks by the so-called Libyan Coast Guard back to Libya."

Then in the early hours of October 18, Sea-Watch took in 202 people from three different small boats. Two more rescues that day brought the total to 412 on board. During the last rescue, Sea-Watch reported that the boat they found was "about to sink" and people "were already in the water."

A rescue operation by Sea-Watch in the Central Mediterranean on October 18 2021 | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/Valeria Mongelli
A rescue operation by Sea-Watch in the Central Mediterranean on October 18 2021 | Photo: Picture-alliance/AP Photo/Valeria Mongelli

Migrants in Italy

According to the latest figures from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), 48,980 migrants arrived in Italy this year up until October 17. Almost 20% of those were children; 15% of those unaccompanied; less than 10% were women and the rest were men. In 2020 throughout the whole year 34,154 people arrived.

The majority of arrivals happen on Sicily and Lampedusa, with just over 6,000 migrants coming into the southern Italian region Calabria, and almost 2,000 arriving in the south-eastern region of Puglia whose coast faces Albania and Greece. Just over 1,000 migrants have also arrived on the Italian island of Sardinia.

The majority of those arriving up until the end of September 2021 are Tunisian, with Bangladeshi nationals making up 12.9% of those arriving and Egyptians 10.5%.

 

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