32 migrants disembark in Italy from German rescue ship

The German rescue ship Alan Kurdi docked in an Italian port in southern Sicily on Sunday after rescuing 32 migrants in the Mediterranean last week.

A spokesman for Sea-Eye, the German charity that runs the vessel, had confirmed to dpa on Saturday night that the ship was given permission to dock at the port of Pozzallo. The migrants disembarked on Sunday.

The Alan Kurdi rescued the migrants from an overcrowded boat off the Libyan coast after receiving an emergency call on Thursday night.

All of those rescued reported that they were Libyan citizens.

Sea-Eye spokesman Gorden Isler said that the rescue was a lot faster than previous operations, which suggests that in 2020 it will be “normal” to save people and bring them to a safe place.

Since last year, Italy and Malta have repeatedly refused to open their ports to migrant rescue vessels unless other EU countries agreed to take in some of the migrants.

Negotiating these burden-sharing arrangements is often difficult and leaves migrants stranded at sea until a deal is struck. Usually this happens with the help of the European Commission.

“These stand-offs are absolutely avoidable if Europe would finally agree on a predictable mechanism,” Isler tweeted late Saturday after excitedly announcing they “have a safe port!”

The Alan Kurdi last brought refugees from the Mediterranean to Italy in early December. The ship is now set to receive a new crew in Palermo and start its next mission in early January.

The ship is named after a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean in 2015 while his family were trying to reach Europe.

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