Europe’s latest migrant stand-off has come to a conclusion as 47 migrants kept at sea for nearly two weeks while Italy pressured European countries to take them in finally disembarked from their rescue ship in Sicily.
The Sea-Watch 3, operated by the German aid group Sea Watch, pulled into Catania’s port and the migrants, who were rescued off Libya on January 19, were taken ashore to be identified and processed.
Wearing aqua coloured scarves to stave off the cold, some of the migrants waved goodbye to the crew as they walked down to police and Red Cross workers waiting on shore.
The #SeaWatch3 arrives in #Catania. We're happy for our guests whose ordeal is now over and we wish them all the best. May #Europe grant them a warm welcome and let them live their lifes as the survivors they are. #DefendSolidarity #United4Med pic.twitter.com/xATClV7Z2b— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) January 31, 2019
“We wish them all the best. We hope Europe will welcome them and let them live as they deserve,” Sea Watch Italy tweeted.
Italy’s prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced a breakthrough in the standoff earlier this week, saying a half-dozen European countries had agreed to take in the migrants so Italy did not have to shoulder the burden alone.
The countries he identified were Germany, France, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal and Romania, as well as Italy.
Italy’s populist government has refused to allow humanitarian ships to dock in a bid to dissuade them from conducting rescues, and to force other countries to take asylum-seekers.
The Sea-Watch case was just the latest in a series of stand-offs that have kept migrants at sea for days and weeks at a time while Europe scrambles to determine their fate.