Migrants: MSF ship in Augusta, torrent of landings

IOM says 1,024 deaths so far in 2021

24 August, 11:56

    (ANSA) - ROME, 24 AGO - The ship Geo Barents with the NGO Doctors Without Borders (MSF) docked Monday at the Sicilian port of Augusta, after requesting for a safe port for days for the 322 people aboard, including 95 minors.

    The Doctors Without Borders' (MSF) ship Geo Barents docked Monday at the Sicilian port of Augusta in the province of Siracusa after waiting for days off the coast of Sicily. For four days the crew had been asking for a safe port for the 322 migrants aboard, including 95 minors. Eighty-five of the minors were unaccompanied and five children were under age five, one just a few days old. "We are glad that the most vulnerable people could finally reach a place of safety where their basic needs can be met and their rights protected," MSF tweeted. The arrival of the Geo Barents came as the Libyan branch of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a sad toll: as of 21 August 2021 on the central Mediterranean migrant route this year, 392 people have drowned and 632 people have gone missing, for a total of 1,024 people in all. IOM recalled that in all of 2020, there were a total of 381 official deaths and 597 people who went missing, for an overall total of 978.

    Cecilia Strada makes appeal for MSF On Sunday afternoon, Cecilia Strada launched a heartfelt appeal for MSF, calling for the ship's immediate docking. Strada had found herself in a similar situation just days prior, when she was aboard the ship ResQpeople, where she learned of the death of her father, Gino. There were 160 rescued people on board. In the end, ResQpeople was allowed to dock at the port of Augusta on 17 August. But history repeated itself and Strada took to Twitter to call on the authorities not to waste any more time.

    "They need to disembark, as soon as possible," she tweeted on Sunday.

    Torrent of landings in Italy Meanwhile, after the landings registered at the weekend, Monday was an intense day of landings in various parts of Italy. Some six boats landed on Lampedusa, with a total of 165 people. Three boats carrying 113 Tunisians were stopped by port authority and finance police patrol boats about 10 miles off the island's southern coast. During the night between Sunday and Monday, patrol boats rescued a 10-metre boat with 88 Tunisians aboard, including 14 women and 10 minors, followed by two other small boats with 12 and 13 people aboard, respectively. About a hundred migrants of various nationalities arrived shortly after sunrise at "Porto delle Grazie" port in Roccella Ionica, Calabria. Finance police naval units from Vibo Valentia intercepted two other boats in two different operations. Four people - two Turks, one Ukrainian and one Moldavian - were arrested on suspicion of human trafficking, while 127 migrants were taken to the port of Crotone. About 10 miles off the coast of Gallipoli, in Puglia, finance police intercepted a boat with an unspecified number of migrants aboard. It is currently unknown where they came from. Seven Kurdish adult migrants, all male, were tracked down in Santa Maria di Leuca, in Puglia, after having disembarked in the early afternoon from a half-cabin boat in the small marina of Castrignano del Capo.

    They likely landed together with other people who weren't located.

    (A photo of migrants on the ship Geo Barents, published by Doctors Without Borders on its Twitter page) (ANSA).

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