Patrol boats disembark rescued migrants in Pozzallo

The 450 migrants will be distributed among a group of willing member states

The UNHCR described the disembarkation process as a prolonged and unjustied one
The UNHCR described the disembarkation process as a prolonged and unjustied one

A group of roughly 450 migrants who were on board two patrol ships outside the port of Pozzallo in Sicily have disembarked and started to receive the necessary treatment.

Permission for the vessel to disembark arrived just before midnight on Sunday, following a day of uncertainty during which the two vessels were provided with supplies by Italian authorities as they looked set to spend another night at sea. 

The migrants had been transferred onto the two vessels from a fishing boat they had been travelling on, on Saturday.

On Saturday evening, Malta and France pledged to take a share of the migrants, however the two boats were not granted permission to dock in Pozzallo on Sunday as Italy held out until more countries stepped forward.

READ ALSO: Evarist Bartolo in spat with ‘patriots’ over government decision to take 50 migrants

In addition to the two countries, Germany, Spain and Portugal also agreed to take in 50 migrants each. Belgium is also expected to communicate its willingness to take a share of the migrants.

In a tweet on Sunday evening, Italian Home Affairs minister Matteo Salvini said that women and children had be allowed to disembark and were being "kept safe", but insisted that the same policy applied thus far by Italy still applied for the remained of the migrants. "Our future goal is for these people, especially the women and children, to not leave [Libya] and not die any longer."

In a tweet UNHCR Italia said the disembarkation process had been “prolonged and unjustified”.

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