According to the aid organization SOS Méditerranée, Italy leaves 182 rescued migrants from the rescue vessel "Ocean Viking" ashore. The Italian authorities have given the survivors on board the Sicilian port of Messina as a safe haven, SOS Méditerranée said on late Sunday evening on Twitter. A representative of the Ministry of the Interior in Rome confirmed the opening of the port to the newspaper "La Stampa".
"We are relieved that Italy, for the second time in a week, opens a port for people rescued in the Mediterranean," the organization said. The ship is operated by SOS Méditerranée and MSF. The 182 people aboard the "Ocean Viking" had been rescued from distress on Wednesday off the Libyan coast, according to the aid organizations.
Already on Tuesday, Italy had landed 82 refugees aboard the "Ocean Viking" in Lampedusa. Ex-Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had sharply criticized the decision. During his 15-month tenure, the Interior Ministry had repeatedly closed Italian ports to humanitarian vessels.
Asselborn calls for new EU rescue mission
On Monday, the interior ministers from Germany, France, Italy and Malta, as well as representatives of the EU Council Presidency, intend to advise Finland and the EU Commission in Malta on a distribution mechanism for migrants rescued on the Mediterranean. This should put an end to the sometimes weeks-long blockades of civil rescue vessels.
On Sunday, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn called for a new EU maritime rescue mission. It is a "commandment of humanity" that the EU is involved in the rescue of stranded refugees, Asselborn said the "World on Sunday." He also called on all EU countries to participate in the reception of migrants rescued from distress.
"In the long term, the distribution of rescued migrants can not be limited to five or six EU countries," said Asselborn. It needs at least twelve states "that fulfill their responsibilities and receive rescued migrants from the central Mediterranean".