Italy authorizes boat with 89 migrants to dock in port

MILAN (AP) — After waiting at sea for days, the German humanitarian group Mission Lifeline reported Monday that Italy has cleared its migrant rescue ship with 89 people aboard into the port of Reggio Calabria.

The 25-meter (80-foot) Rise Above ship entered Italian waters over the weekend without authorities’ consent due to storm-tossed seas, after rescuing 95 people in the central Mediterranean. Six were evacuated at sea due to medical emergencies.

“We are relieved that the wait on the high seas is over. The situation on board has become more and more critical in the last few days and hours,” Mission Lifeline spokeswoman Hermine Poschmann said. “We hope that the Italian authorities will give everyone access to an asylum procedure in accordance with the law and that people will not have to stay on our ship longer than necessary.”

Italy has refused to give safe harbor to migrant rescue boats, and has taken a hard line with non-governmental organizations operating in the central Mediterranean. Authorities only allow vulnerable people to disembark. The Italian authorities insist that the ships must return to international waters with those who are not considered vulnerable.

The far-right government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni insists that the countries whose flag the humanitarian boats fly take responsibility for the migrants and that the burden should not fall solely on Italy.

Poschmann said that Mission Lifeline has asked the German government to accept more people.

Two other boats managed by NGOs are docked in Catania, one with 35 people who Italy does not allow to disembark, and the other with 214 people. Both ships refuse to set sail, arguing that, under international law, all people rescued at sea are vulnerable and entitled to a safe harbor.

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