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A rubber dinghy carrying migrants rescued by German NGO Sea-Eye ship "Alan Kurdi" pictured at sea on October 26, 2019
Image: Reuters/Sea-Eye/Julie Bourdin

Italy allows German migrant rescue boat to dock

November 2, 2019

Italy granted permission for migrants on board a Sea-Eye rescue ship to disembark, after nearly a week stranded at sea. The standoff ended after Germany and other EU countries agreed to take in the migrants.

https://p.dw.com/p/3SMPH

A rescue ship operated by the German humanitarian group Sea-Eye will be allowed to dock in southern Italy after a nearly weeklong standoff, the government said on Friday night.

The Alan Kurdi rescued 88 migrants last Saturday, but was stuck in the Mediterranean Sea after Italy refused to let those on board disembark the ship.

After hovering near the Italian island of Lampedusa, the ship has now been given permission to dock in the southern city of Taranto, Italy's Interior Ministry said.

The decision came after several EU countries agreed to share the migrants on board, with Germany and France agreeing to take in 60 of them. Portugal will take five, Ireland will take two and Italy will take in the remaining 13.

Situation on board was 'tense'

Earlier on Friday, the Alan Kurdi entered Italian territorial waters without permission, saying that weather conditions were getting worse.

"The weather is getting worse, the people on deck are getting wet. We decided in the early afternoon that the ship needs to seek shelter near the coast," Sea-Eye spokesperson Gordon Isler told news agency DPA.

Captain Bärbel Beuse also said that the situation on board was "tense" after so many days at sea and that food supplies on board were running out.

During the rescue operation last weekend, Sea-Eye said that Libyan security forces fired warning shots and aimed mounted guns at rescuers and migrants.

The route through Libya to reach Europe is a popular path for migrants from East Africa, the Sahel and the Middle East.

Italy has closed its ports to rescue vessels in recent years, arguing that aid ships facilitate human trafficking.

Germany, France, Italy and Malta proposed a system for automatically distributing asylum-seekers across the bloc to prevent rescue ships from being stranded at sea, although only a few other countries have voiced support for the plan.

rs/aw (dpa, AFP, AP)

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