Italy allows minors, sick people to disembark migrant ship

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Italian authorities on Sunday allowed minors and people in need of urgent medical care to disembark from a German-flagged vessel in the Sicilian port of Catania, the NGO running the ship said.

Several vessels holding almost 1,000 migrants have been at sea off Italy for more than a week awaiting permission to dock from the country’s right-wing government that took office last month.

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On Friday, Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said the German-flagged Humanity 1 ship with 179 people aboard would be allowed to release minors and those with health issues, adding the boat and the rest of those onboard would then be sent out of territorial waters.

German NGO Humanity said an order to leave would breach international law and said it was unclear whether the ship would be forced to leave.

“Being ordered to leave the port of Catania with rescued people remaining on board would constitute an illegal pushback,” Humanity said.

It said that, after an inspection by the authorities, 144 migrants, mainly minors, were allowed to leave the vessel, while some 35 adults judged to be healthy had to stay on board.

Italy’s Interior Ministry decline to comment on the issue on Sunday.

A second charity vessel that had asked Rome for a safe port to disembark 572 migrants was also ordered by Italian authorities to reach Catania, the press officer for the Geo Barents ship told Reuters.

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