An Italian rescue ship carrying 41 migrants flouted the country's ban on Saturday to dock on the island of Lampedusa.
The Alex ship from the Mediterranea NGO docked in Lampedusa in the late afternoon. Migrants were allowed to disembark in the early hours on Sunday. The NGO tweeted that they had broken the law "out of necessity."
"We are living through a surreal situation and it is unnecessarily cruel to prolong the wait," it added.
Meanwhile, German humanitarian group Sea-Eye has decided to sail its Alan Kurdi ship towards Malta after being stranded in international waters off Lampedusa with 65 rescued migrants on board.
"In the evening, the Alan Kurdi changed its course towards Malta. We cannot wait until the state of emergency prevails," the NGO said on Twitter.
"Now it has to be proven whether the European governments stand by Italy's attitude. Human lives are not a bargaining chip," they added.
The Sea-Eye said on its Facebook page that the crew of the Alan Kurdi ship brought the African migrants onboard their vessel early Friday. They were found in a large dinghy about 55km off the coast of Libya.
Libyan authorities failed to respond to communication for more than three hours, the NGO said.
The Alan Kurdi is a German-flagged vessel named after the three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi who drowned in the Mediterranean and whose body washed up on a beach in Turkey in 2015.
The captain of another rescue ship, the Sea-Watch 3, forced her way into the Italian port of Lampedusa last week in defiance of Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini.
The Sea-Eye said it was headed for Lampedusa in the early hours of Saturday, adding that it would not be "intimidated by an interior minister, but we are heading to the next safe port."
“The law of the sea applies, even if some government representatives do not want to admit this."
The vessel has already been warned off from going to Italy by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.
"The situation is under control, but prevention is better than cure. And this applies on land as at sea given that since last night I have to take some time to deal with another capricious NGO that last week didn't want to go to Tunisia and today doesn't want to go to Malta," Salvini said on Friday.
Sea-Eye encouraged its Facebook followers to "support the rescued persons and the crew onboard the Alan Kurdi today at one of the nearly 100 Seebrücke - Schafft sichere Häfen-demonstrations."
Protests against the criminalization of migrant and refugee rescue operations run by NGOs were set to be held in several German cities on Saturday.