Migrants rescued at sea to be allowed off Italy's quarantine ferry

AFP - [email protected]
Migrants rescued at sea to be allowed off Italy's quarantine ferry
Stock photo: AFP

Around 180 migrants rescued at sea and held in isolation on an Italian ferry off the coast of Sicily will be disembarked in Palermo on Monday, the Avvenire daily said.


The migrants had been pulled to safety in two separate operations by NGO rescue vessels and placed on the Rubattino ferry after Italy closed its ports due to the coronavirus epidemic.

All tested negative for the virus.

The Avvenire said holding them longer than the 14-day isolation period would leave Italy open to accusations of illegally detaining the migrants -- something of which it is very wary.

Far-right leader Matteo Salvini is to stand trial accused of just that after he blocked migrants from disembarking from a coast guard boat while he was interior minister last year.

He had insisted they not be allowed off until a deal was made with the EU over who had duty of care for them.


It was not yet known whether the 183 people disembarking on Monday, including two women and 44 unaccompanied minors, would be sent to other EU countries.

Nearby Malta is currently refusing to allow 57 migrants who were rescued from a dingy this week to disembark until there is an EU agreement on their future placement.

They are being held just outside Malta's territorial waters on a private vessel that is normally used for tour cruises, the Mediterranean island nation's government said.

It remains unclear whether Italy will re-open its ports as the country gradually lifts its two-month lockdown from Monday.

Malta has officially recorded four coronavirus deaths, compared with more than 28,000 reported by Italy.


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