After ten days at sea the Ocean Viking rescue ship has docked in Sicily. As the migrants on board were brought to safety, rescue workers expressed frustration at the EU's failure to coordinate the disembarkation.
Ten days after the first group was rescued, all 294 migrants aboard the Ocean Viking received permission to go ashore in Italy on Thursday (May 5). The ship was allowed to take the rescuees to the Sicilian port of Pozzallo, the aid organization SOS Mediterranee, which operates the ship, announced.
"The relief is huge, but we witnessed once again the failure of the EU to coordinate the disembarkation," the NGO said.
The crew of the "Ocean Viking" had explained on Wednesday that the nearly children, women and men were exhausted and urgently needed help that could not be given to them on board. Many refugees and migrants were traumatized or had medical problems, they added.
At sea for days on end
The organization had said earlier that 12 requests to be given safe port had previously failed. Only one person with a deteriorating medical condition was reportedly allowed to be airlifted to safety during that period.
"Being kept without authorisation to disembark after experiencing near-death at sea is extremely distressing," SOS Mediterranee said on Twitter. Rescuees in the Mediterranean Sea often have to hold out on board private rescue boats for days on end under difficult conditions until a decision is made on where they can disembark.
The Ocean Viking had rescued the migrants, including 127 unaccompanied minors, in several operations since Monday last week.
The Mediterranean route is considered to be one of the most dangerous routes for asylum seekers in the world. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), at least 644 people have died or gone missing on the crossing since the beginning of this year. The number of unreported cases is likely to be higher.