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Italy allows minors off migrant ship

August 17, 2019

After more than two weeks, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has allowed 27 minors to disembark a migrant rescue vessel. Others on board have not been authorized to leave the boat.

An unaccompanied minor from the Open Arms migrant rescue ship disembarks from the vessel
Image: Reuters/G. Mangiapane

Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has authorized 27 unaccompanied minors to leave a migrant rescue vessel that had been sitting in waters off Italy, the Spanish charity operating the ship said on Saturday.

Salvini wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte that he could authorize the "alleged" minors to leave the Open Arms ship despite it being "divergent to my orientation."

The interior minister said he had only agreed to allow the minors off the boat at the insistence of Conte.

"They will be evacuated by coastguard Lampedusa," Proactive Open Arms tweeted after Salvini reluctantly authorized the disembarkation.

Video footage posted on Twitter by Open Arms showed the young migrants being transferred to a smaller vessel.

Ship 'cannot guarantee' security of migrants

The migrants picked up off the coast of Libya, most of whom are African, are waiting to disembark on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

The ship has been waiting for more than two weeks for a port to dock in.

The 106 adults and two accompanied minors remaining on the boat are not allowed to leave.

Prior to Salivini's agreement to allow unaccompanied minors off the ship, Open Arms had said it was "in a situation of need and we cannot guarantee the security of the 134 people onboard."

It said there had already been six medical evacuations.

France, Germany, Romania, Portugal, Spain and Luxembourg have said they will help relocate the migrants, but Salvini's interior ministry appears skeptical.

Italy: Lampedusa and the refugees

law/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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