Rescued migrants moved to quarantine ship after deal with Italy

The future remains uncertain for the 149 people who were rescued nearly two weeks ago

Rescued migrants are taken aboard an Italian passenger ship nearly two weeks after being rescued. Sea-Eye
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Nearly 150 migrants plucked from the Mediterranean Sea have been transferred to an Italian passenger ship after their rescuers were barred from docking at European ports during the coronavirus pandemic.

Conditions on board the German-run Alan Kurdi rescue ship had become desperate with three of the migrants already taken off the vessel because of serious mental health problems following their attempted escape from Libya.

The remaining 146 migrants who were rescued on April 6 were taken aboard a larger passenger ship, Raffaele Rubattino, close to the Sicilian port of Palermo, after an agreement with the Italian government.

The future for the rescued migrants is uncertain after 14 days of quarantine. Sea-Eye

Relief for the migrants came amid uncertainty about what would happen after the period of quarantine on board the Italian ship with governments across the 27-nation EU unwilling to take the new arrivals as they grapple with the Covid-19 crisis.

“The situation on the Alan Kurdi has been unbearable for days,” said Jan Ribbeck, the head of operations for the German charity Sea-Eye which operates the ship. “We are infinitely relieved that the blockade is finally over.”

Italy and Malta had refused to allow the Alan Kurdi to dock – one of two known rescue ships operating in waters off the Libyan coast – after years of tensions between the charitable organisations and authorities.

Migrants struck by the Covid crisis

Migrants struck by the Covid crisis

Germany this month also called for the end of charity search and rescue missions because of the lack of ports to offload rescued migrants.

The difficulties encountered by the crew of the Alan Kurdi came as two leading search and rescue organisations ended their partnership in the Mediterranean over differences in opinion of how to respond to governments unwilling to accept new arrivals.

The crew of the Alan Kurdi will also go into quarantine for two weeks anchored off Palermo on Italy’s southern tip.

TOPSHOT - This handout picture taken on July 5, 2019 and released on January 25, 2020 by German migrant rescue NGO Sea-Eye shows their vessel "Alan Kurdi" at sea. The "Alan Kurdi" brought help to 78 people spread over two boats in difficulty off the Libyan coast, the German NGO Sea Eye announced on January 25, 2020. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO /SEA-EYE.ORG / Nick Jaussi" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

The charity has seen a huge drop in donations during the coronavirus pandemic and its plans for a new rescue mission in May are now in jeopardy, the charity said.

“Letting people drown because of the corona crisis is just as bad a reason as any other reason that has been claimed in this debate,” said Gorden Isler, chairman of Sea-Eye.