After nearly 40 days at sea, 27 migrants will be disembarking in Pozzallo, Sicily after being caught up in a high-seas stand-off with Maltese authorities.
The migrants, who were rescued by the Danish-flagged Maersk Etienne, had been stranded aboard the tanker since 4th August. The situation became so dire that three migrants reportedly even jumped overboard out of desperation.
Prime Minister Robert Abela had previously said the ship was the Danish government’ problem, asking: “Do they have a right to enter Malta? No.”
The tanker, which was outside of Malta’s territorial waters, was refused entry to a Maltese port. Now, the Italian Coast Guard has authorised its entry into Pozzallo.
???? At 19.25 today the IT MRCC @guardiacostiera and @Viminale have assigned #Pozzallo as the port for the disembarkation “due to health reasons” of the 25 people still aboard of the #MareJonio. After 40 days the nightmare is finally over for the castaways of the Maersk #Etienne
— Mediterranea Saving Humans (@RescueMed) September 12, 2020
Humanitarian group Mediterranea hailed the development, saying that “after 40 days the nightmare is finally over for the castaways of the Maersk”.
Malta, as well as other south European countries like Italy and Greece, find themselves at the forefront of an ongoing migration crisis from Africa and the Middle East into Europe.