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A FIVE-DAY standoff that left over 100 refugees stranded at sea finally came to an end today when the EU authorities allowed two NGO rescue ships to dock in Italy.
The Alan Kurdi, operated by German charity Sea Eye, and the Ocean Viking, crewed jointly by SOS Mediterranee and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), saved the lives of 144 refugees last Thursday in three separate missions.
It wasn’t until yesterday afternoon, however, when the Palermo mayor Leoluca Orlando responded to the Alan Kurdi’s plea for shelter on Twitter that the two ships were granted a port of safety.
“Palermo is a welcoming city,” Mr Orlando tweeted on Tuesday. “Our harbour is always open. I call on Premier Giuseppe Conte to ensure that these refugees can come ashore in Palermo.”
That evening the Alan Kurdi disembarked its remaining 61 refugees in Messina. And this morning, the Ocean Viking’s crew completed the rescue of 60 more when they came ashore in Pozzallo.
“We absolutely rely on the solidarity from cities, when the political negotiations do not regard the fundamental rights and needs of rescued persons,” Sea Eye’s head of communication, Julian Pahlke, told the Star today.
“It was great sign of humanity and decency from Leoluca Orlando to declare his port open for the Alan Kurdi.
“We are only filling the gap that European states and the EU fail to close. We have therefore always demanded to be treated according to international law.
“The crew is extremely relived to see the rescued persons finally on shore.
“The conditions on the vessel became increasingly difficult, the health of the rescued was already bad. These people escaped the Libyan hell, in which some them spent the last three years.
“It is absurd and disgraceful what ministers, head of states and the European Commission is doing to them.”
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