ROME: Italy let minors and sick people disembark from a German-flagged rescue ship on Sunday, but refused to let 35 adult male migrants disembark, to the despair of rejected survivors.
Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi earlier said those not “qualified” should “leave territorial waters”, as three other aid ships pleaded with Rome for a safe port.
The Ocean Viking, the Geo Barents and the Rise Above together carry 900 migrants.
Three minors and a baby were the first to disembark from Humanity 1 in the port of Catania in the early morning, followed by minors, said the press officer of SOS Humanity. Petra Krischok told AFP.
After that, adult males with medical conditions were allowed to leave. A total of 144 people disembarked.
“Thirty-five adult males are still on board. For now, we are staying here and waiting,” she said.
“The mood of the survivors is extremely depressed. One person has just had depression,” she added.
The Humanity 1 had been invited by the Italian authorities to come to the Sicilian port, but had not been given a safe port. It was not immediately clear if he would be ordered to leave.
– ‘Treated like objects’ – Italy’s new far-right government, which was sworn in last month, has pledged to crack down on migrants by boat heading from North Africa to Europe.
Opposition MP Aboubakar Soumahoro, who was present when the elected officials disembarked, criticized the “selection of castaways”, which he said violates international law.
He said the government of far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was treating “the worn-out bodies of the castaways, already exhausted by cold, fatigue, trauma and torture… like objects”.
“If the remaining castaways are rejected…we will challenge this decision in all appropriate institutions,” he said on Twitter.
Piantedosi said on Saturday that migrants not allowed to disembark should be “handled by the flag state” – a reference to the national flags under which ships sail.
Two of the charity boats – the Humanity 1 and the Mission Lifeline charity Rise Above – sail under the German flag.
The other two – Ocean Viking from SOS Méditerranée and Geo Barents from Doctors Without Borders – are registered in Norway.
Norway’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it took “no responsibility” for people rescued by Norwegian-flagged private vessels in the Mediterranean.
Germany insisted in a diplomatic “note” to Italy that the charities “made an important contribution to saving human lives” and asked Rome “to help them as soon as possible”.

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