Istanbul — Dozens of migrants who were rescued at sea nearly three weeks ago were finally allowed back on land. They’re now on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The rescue ship, named Open Arms, was not embraced by anti-immigration officials in Rome.
Their rescue was ordered by an Italian prosecutor after he reportedly went onboard their overcrowded rescue vessel and saw first hand the conditions there.
Video Tuesday showed some of the migrants apparently in a state of despair, hysterical in some cases, and clearly very angry. Several jumped overboard and attempted to swim to shore.
The rescue boat had been at sea for 19 days, and was anchored just off the coastline of Lampedusa. But Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has banned migrant rescue vessels from docking at Italian ports, leaving the people on board stranded, despite several European countries offering to take them in.
The ban is popular with some Italian voters who’ve watched a stream of migrants cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa. In a statement, Salvini said, “we are no longer the refugee camp of Europe.”