Almost 200 migrants rescued by a humanitarian aid boat in the Mediterranean Sea began to leave the vessel in Sicily late on Monday after nine days stuck on the ship which saw some migrants attempt suicide and others threaten the crew.
A journalist aboard the Ocean Viking watched as the migrants, in single file and carrying backpacks, docked at Porto Empedocle on the Italian island’s western coast.
Police escorted them a short distance to another vessel, where they will be quarantined to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus.
The migrants were rescued in four separate operations and had become agitated from waiting to dock at a safe port.
However, approval did not arrive until Sunday, after the group declared a state of emergency on board, adding it could no longer guarantee the safety of the migrants or the crew.
Migrants who have waited for more than a week to disembark could make out both the Sicilian coast and the immense ferry, the Moby Zaza, according to an AFP reporter on board. This wait could’ve been what let to the migrants attempt suicide.
The mayor of Porto Empedocle, Ida Carmina, told reporters that the migrants’ arrival was too much for the economically suffering community to support.
While on the boat tensions rose and fights broke out between migrants frustrated by the long wait and their inability to call their families to let them know they were safe.