Over 100 Migrants Jump Overboard from NGO Vessel to Reach Italy

A patrol boat of the Italian Coast Guards (Guardia Costiera) sails past the rescue vessel of Spanish NGO Open Arms on September 17, 2020 off the port of Palermo, Sicily, after another patrol boat of the Guardia Costiera rescued a group of 76 migrants who threw themselves into the sea …
ALESSANDRO FUCARINI/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly half the migrants aboard a Spanish migrant transport NGO vessel stuck off the coast of Sicily by Italian authorities jumped overboard in a bid to reach Italian shores.

The Spanish NGO Open Arms has had it ship stuck off the Sicilian coast for several days near Palermo waiting for Italian authorities to grant their vessel port access to drop off the 275 migrants on board.

In the last several days, over 100 of those migrants wearing life jackets decided to jump overboard in a bid to be reach the shores of Sicily, Italian newspaper Il Giornale reports.

The first incident saw just ten migrants throw themselves overboard. A second incident saw 76 migrants do the same after Italian authorities allowed the NGO vessel to weigh anchor closer to Palermo earlier this week.

On Friday, 48 more migrants jumped from the NGO ship wearing life jackets, for a total of 124 migrants having jumped off the ship in the lead up to the weekend.

Populist Senator Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League (Lega) party, commented on the arrival of the Spanish NGO ship, saying: “Only words have come from [the European Union], but the certainty is that at the moment there are 2,000 illegal immigrants onboard cruise ships off Sicily, at the expense of the Italians, and another 275 are arriving aboard a ship of a Spanish NGO since they were rejected by Malta. Italy cannot be Europe’s refugee camp.”

Since the easing of the Wuhan virus lockdown in Italy migrant NGOs have resumed their activity in the Mediterranean, and while some have had their ships confiscated they have pressed on regardless and raised funds to launch new ships, such as the German NGO Sea-Eye.

Sicily, meanwhile, has made moves to stop migrants coming to the island, with Sicilian governor Nello Musumeci signing an ordinance to close the island’s migrant hotspots last month.

Due to fears of the spread of the coronavirus, Italy has deployed six ships in the Mediterranean to quarantine incoming migrants, and in the northern part of the country the government has been forced to use buses to quarantine migrants arriving via the Balkan land route.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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