ROME – A Doctors Without Borders (MSF) NGO rescue ship carrying 1,446 migrants finally docked in the southern Italian port of Naples on Sunday, 48 hours after it was refused permission to disembark on the island of Sicily due to the security measures in place for the G7 summit hosted there over the weekend.
The migrants had been rescued during operations in the Mediterranean Sea in their attempt to reach the shores of southern Sicily but, once safely onboard the MSF ship Prudence, their landing was even further delayed by the heightened security on the island, where leaders of the world’s seven most economically advanced nations were gathered in Taormina.
“After a very difficult journey Prudence has finally reached the port of Napoli with 1446 people,” MSF tweeted on Sunday after docking in the southern Italian city.
The ship was forced to make a stopover in Palermo, the Sicilian capital, to get supplies following an appeal by MSF, which warned of the difficult conditions in which it was transporting the migrants.
The coordinator of the MSF operation, Michele Trainiti, said that the ship was assigned a port 48 hours away, rather than the usual 30-hour distance, because Sicily was locked down for the G7 summit, adding that it was unacceptable in his opinion to leave people rescued from the sea in such conditions.
He added that it implied that the G7 meeting was more important than the lives of rescued migrants.
Trainiti told the Italian Sky TG24 TV channel that those people – who embarked from Libya but came from other countries in crisis – included five babies, 40 children under the age of five and a lot of pregnant women.
The bodies of 34 migrants whose boats were wrecked about 50 kilometers (31 miles) off the coast of Libya were also recovered during the week.
According to the latest figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), between Jan. 1 and May 24, about 60,521 migrants and refugees were able to reach Europe.