A group of migrants who had been blocked aboard a tanker in the Mediterranean for more than a month have been allowed to land in Sicily after Italy agreed to take them in.
According to an NGO, Mediterranea, landed in Italy in the early hours of Sunday September 13, 2020.
A statement released by Mediterranea said, “The 25 people still at sea disembarked late on Saturday in the port town of Pozzallo, in Sicily, in southern Italy, due to health reasons, ending a nightmare.”
“The longest and most shameful stand-off of European maritime history ends,” Mediterranea tweeted after the landing.
The migrants had been transferred on Friday to the Italian charity ship Mare Jonio, operated by Mediterranea, after being anchored off the coast of Malta on the Maersk Etienne since August.
The people aboard were “in serious psycho-physical conditions that make it impossible for them to stay on the petrol tanker,” Mediterranea said after the transfer.
The Maersk Etienne’s crew had rescued the migrants, including a pregnant woman, on August 4th, 2020 near Malta from a wooden dinghy that had been at sea for days and sank immediately after the rescue operation.
Neither the Maltese, Italian nor Libyan authorities had let the migrants come ashore, according to Maersk Tankers, the operator of Maersk Etienne.
“This 40-day blockage is intolerable,” French NGO SOS Mediterranee said on Twitter.