Italy: 84 rescued migrants disembark Ocean Viking after four days at sea

Ocean Viking rescue ship docks at the Italian port of Ravenna, February 18.
Ocean Viking rescue ship docks at the Italian port of Ravenna, February 18. Copyright Euronews
By Euronews
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The NGO vessel was granted permission to dock at Emilia-Romagna's only port on Saturday. SOS Mediterranee says 58 unaccompanied minors were among those onboard.

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For the second time in less than two months, the humanitarian ship Ocean Viking has arrived in Italy's Ravenna port, with refugees on board.

The Italian authorities gave the SOS Mediterranee vessel permission to dock after it spent four days at sea.

"Ravenna is a supportive community. We immediately made our city available to welcome [the] arrivals" said Ravenna mayor Michele De Pascale.

At the Ravenna cruise terminal, the President of the Emilia-Romagna region Stefano Bonaccini also expresses his concern about Europe's position on the reception and distribution of migrants.

"We need a system for the distribution of migrants in Europe because we are not at the emergency stage but we could soon be," said Bonaccini.

"I believe that we must demand that Europe show solidarity and that it makes itself available."

Bonaccini said he thought the Italian government had "little credibility" because for years it had sent the message that the country's ports were closed, except to Italians. However now when they are calling for support from other EU countries, the plea was falling on deaf ears. 

Concerns have also been expressed about a new Italian government decree that requires NGO vessels to immediately return to an assigned port after one rescue operation has been completed, but Alessandro Porro says this limits the number of migrants who can be pulled from the water.

"This decree slows down the operational capacity of a maritime ambulance like Ocean Viking to be operational and to be present where there is a need. The people we have rescued are now in good health, we have seen situations of dehydration, hypothermia and suffering due to torture and violence in Libyan prisons " said Porro.

A total of 84 people were rescued in international waters off the coast of Libya on February 14 including 59 unaccompanied minors.

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