Women and children accompanied by their mothers are among the first to be disembarked, in the port of Catania, from the Geo Barents, a search and rescue ship of Doctors Without Borders. Orietta Scardino/EPA-EFE
Nov. 6 (UPI) -- At least 35 adult migrants seeking asylum were not allowed to disembark from their boat Sunday, leaving them likely to venture back out onto international waters.
The captain of the Humanity 1, one of non-governmental agency SOS Humanity's fleet, refused orders to leave the port of Catania after the migrants were refused entry to Sicily. As many as 144 asylum seekers were allowed to disembark after medical inspection before being brought to a reception center. Many were children or people with medical emergencies. About 100 unaccompanied children are estimated to be among those taken off the boat.
SOS Humanity is a search and rescue organization which focuses on saving people who are fleeing across the Mediterranean Sea. According to its website, SOS Humanity also educates the public about the "inhumane consequences of the European migration policy, and by raising awareness of the deplorable conditions in the central Mediterranean."
The incident at the port of Catania comes just two weeks after right wing leader Giorgia Meloni was sworn in as Italy's first female premier. She is the leader of the far right group the Brothers of Italy, which has roots in neo-fascism. Among her notable stances are a strong anti-immigration policy particularly targeting African migrants.
The Guardian reports many of the migrants that arrived on Humanity 1 were found fleeing Libya on small boats, seeking asylum from torture and abuse in their home country. Aboubakar Soumahoro, Italy's lone Black legislator, went to the port to meet with the migrants on Sunday.
"I appeal to the President of the Italian Republic Sergio #Mattarella , Guardian of the Constitution, to intervene to ensure compliance with the law and constitutional legality," Soumahoro tweeted. "Worn bodies of castaways already exhausted by cold, fatigue, trauma and torture are considered objects by Italy's new prime minister, Giorgia Meloni."
WRI's on-board doctor was asked to select passengers in need of medical attention to be allowed to disembark, but he argued all of the migrants were in need of serious medical attention. After he informed Italian officials of this, two Italian physicians came on board and did their own evaluation, determining 36 migrants did not need attention and should remain onboard. One of those migrants then collapsed and was taken off the boat for assistance.
Humanity 1 is not the only ship off the coast of Italy seeking to bring refugees to land. Two other ships were still at sea carrying about 900 people who were rescued.