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Salvini vows end to "human cargo" as migrants reach Sicily

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Diciotti coast guard ship docks in Pozzallo with 519 migrants aboard
Diciotti coast guard ship docks in Pozzallo with 519 migrants aboard -
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REUTERS
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Five hundred and nineteen migrants rescued at sea have disembarked in the Italian port of Pozzallo on the island of Sicily.

"Priority must be given to the rescue of human lives and then the immediate docking at a safe port."

Marco Rotunno Communications Officer, UNHCR

Their arrival comes less than two weeks after Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused to allow the Aquarius rescue boat carrying more than 600 migrants to dock in Italy.

While the Diciotti coast guard ship waited for clearance on Tuesday night, a group of a dozen dehydrated migrants was brought ashore for medical treatment.

But not everyone survived the harrowing journey, Marco Rotunno, Communications Officer for the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, said on Tuesday (June 19) night:

"Unfortunately, today we also witnessed the arrival of a corpse. The dead at sea even this year are accumulating and the numbers are very high - more that 750 people have been confirmed dead in just the first six months of the year. With all these human lives lost at sea, the priority must be given to the rescue of human lives and then the immediate docking at a safe port."

Salvini has accused NGO rescue ships of being complicit with human smugglers operating in Libya. However, an Italian court has dropped a case brought against two NGOs for lack of evidence.

Visiting Pozzallo earlier this month, Salvini said Sicily would not become Europe's "refugee camp." On Tuesday, he said Italy would submit a proposal on migration policy to Brussels in the next few days.