ROME: A ship with 125 rescued migrants aboard reached the Italian island of Sardinia on Thursday, the aid organization Sea-Eye said, adding that the fate of its survivors remains unclear.
The Alan Kurdi docked at the port of Arbatax on the east of the island, having been “instructed by the port authorities to drop anchor and wait for further instructions,” said Sea-Eye, which charters the boat.
However, the NGO said it was unclear whether Arbatax would be a “safe port,” in which the rescued survivors would be able to disembark.
On Wednesday night, Italian authorities had made contact to discuss the “further coordination” and to provide weather protection for the ship, five days since Sea-Eye asked for assistance, it said on Twitter.
Italy’s Interior Ministry said earlier in the day that it had “authorized the request” to dock and “activated the procedure to redistribute” the 125 rescued migrants across Europe.
“Eighty percent of the rescued migrants will be transferred to other European countries,” it added.
The ship — named Alan Kurdi after the Syrian boy who made global headlines when his drowned body washed up on a beach in Turkey in 2015 — rescued 133 people, including 62 children, from three different boats off the Libyan coast.
Eight people, including a five-month-old baby, were evacuated by the Italian coast guard. More than 50 minors are still on board, including young children, the NGO said.
The ship was initially heading to Marseille in the south of France before French authorities successfully asked Italy to allow it to dock in the Mediterranean, Sea-Eye’s chief Gorden Isler said in a tweet.
“We hope that the 125 rescued will be allowed to disembark in Sardinia so they can be adequately cared for there,” Isler added.
French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that the Sea-Eye ship should “be received in the nearest safe port,” with France implicitly declining any possibility of allowing the ship to dock in Marseille.
The principle of the landing of survivors in the nearest “safe port,” enshrined in international maritime law, generally means Italy or Malta are expected to take in rescued survivors from Mediterranean crossings.
More than 600 migrants have perished this year while attempting the Mediterranean crossing, the deadliest route for those hoping for a better life in Europe.
Almost 50,000 have made the journey so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.