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Italy migrant row: UN calls for 'urgent' end to ship stand-off

August 25, 2018 4:00 pm

On Saturday Ireland said it would take 20-25 of the stranded migrants
The United Nations appealed on Saturday for EU members to “urgently” offer relocation places to 150 migrants caught in a stand-off involving an Italian coastguard vessel.

The Diciotti has been docked in the Sicilian port of Catania since Monday.

The Italian government is refusing to let the migrants disembark until a solution is reached regarding their relocation with other European states.

On Friday a meeting of ten EU envoys in Brussels failed to provide a solution.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement that Europe has recognised “a fundamental and legal obligation” to help “people fleeing war, violence and persecution” throughout its history.

“The time has come to end the back-and-forth that has seen countries competing in a race to the bottom on who can take the least responsibility for people rescued at sea,” he said.

“It is dangerous and immoral to put the lives of refugees and asylum-seekers at risk while states engage in a political tug-of-war on long-term solutions.”

The UN says that more than 1,600 people have lost their lives trying to cross into Europe in 2018, despite overall numbers being down.

Most of the migrants on the Diciotti come from Eritrea and were rescued on their crossing by the Italian coastguard.

Under EU rules, people must seek asylum where they arrive, but Italy has increasingly barred boats from docking.