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The Spanish rescue ship arrived on the island around midnight following an order from a Sicilian pub

Open Arms docks in Italian port of Lampedusa after 20 days at sea

The ongoing crisis over the Spanish NGO rescue ship Open Arms took a new and unexpected turn last night. After 20 days with no solution in sight for the migrants on board, the vessel was finally given permission to dock in Lampedusa. The Open Arms had been anchored just 800 meters from the Italian island since Friday, with the country’s authorities refusing it entry and Spain coming up with a number of different solutions – all of which the NGO had refused.

The decision finally came from Luigi Patronaggio, the Italian public prosecutor in Agrigento, Scicily. After inspecting the ship, he ordered it to be seized and for the 83 or so migrants still on board to disembark. Minutes after the order came from the prosecutor, the Spanish Navy ship Auduz set sail from Rota, Cádiz, after the Spanish government decided to send the military to collect the migrants and bring them to a port in the Balearic Islands.

The Open Arms entered the port of Lampedusa slowly at about midnight last night, escorted by two Italian Coast Guard patrol boats. The migrants, who were seen in a video released by the NGO celebrating Patronaggio’s decision with applause and hugs, then began to disembark from the boat after a brief inspection by the port police.

Some came down the stairs with difficulty; others had to stop halfway, dazzled by the spotlights that the authorities had installed in the port. All of them said goodbye to the ship’s crew with hugs and smiles.

The Italian officers took the migrants in small groups via vans to the island’s reception center, where they will spend one or two days before being taken to another, national system. When the vans left the port, a group of people applauded and shouted “Welcome!” while there were some boos and jeers.

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