Migrants allowed to disembark in Italy

Migrants aboard the Ocean Viking have been allowed to disembark at Italy's port on Lampedusa island.
Migrants aboard the Ocean Viking have been allowed to disembark at Italy's port on Lampedusa island.

The more than 80 migrants on board the NGO vessel Ocean Viking in the Mediterranean have been granted permission to disembark in Italy.

"The #OceanViking just received instruction from Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) of Rome to proceed to Lampedusa, Italy, which has been designated as Place of Safety for the 82 survivors rescued in two operations," SOS Mediterranee posted on Twitter on Saturday.

The Ocean Viking has more than 80 migrants on board after it took in 34 migrants from another boat caught up in bad weather earlier this week. It had already picked up 50 migrants last Sunday.

Only two people, a pregnant woman and her husband, had been allowed to disembark so far. They were brought to Malta.

UN Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi welcomed the development, saying it was an "important step" towards finding an agreement between European nations that gives clear regulations for the disembarkation and distribution of migrants.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner wrote on Twitter that a "European ad hoc agreement" had been made between Italy, France, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg regarding the Ocean Viking.

He also highlighted the need for a more durable mechanism for dealing with rescued migrants.

Australian Associated Press