Rescued Sea Watch migrants to dock in Italy after deal reached: PM

Rome (AFP) –


Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday that 47 rescued migrants aboard the Sea Watch NGO vessel could finally disembark after Italy and six other countries agreed to take them in.

"Luxembourg has joined the list of friendly countries that responded to our invitation (to take the migrants), now we are seven countries," Conte told journalists. "Disembarking will begin in the coming hours."

The other countries that have agreed to take in the migrants and asylum seekers, who have been stuck on the Sea Watch 3 vessel for nearly two weeks, are France, Germany, Malta, Portugal and Romania.

Their fate has been at the centre of a standoff between Italy's far-right anti-migrant Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and the German NGO Sea Watch.

The aid group on Friday filed an urgent case at the European Human Rights Court against Italy for refusing to allow its ship to dock.

Sea Watch took the step because of Rome's hardline attitude against the mainly sub-Saharan migrants that its ship Sea Watch 3 pulled out of the Mediterranean on January 19.

Sea Watch 3 is sailing under a Dutch flag and currently sheltering from bad weather off Sicily.

It picked up the migrants and asylum-seekers -- including eight minors -- off the coast of Libya as they made the treacherous Mediterranean crossing.

The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday urged the Italian government to "take all necessary measures, as quickly as possible", to provide migrants on board the Sea-Watch 3 with medical care, water and food.