Meanwhile, three refugees stranded on a rescue ship jumped into the sea in the port of Catania, Sicily. The men were quickly pulled out of the water, said the non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders, which operates the ship Geo Barents. One of the three men had apparently tried to save the other two after they jumped into the sea.
About a dozen other migrants shouted from the deck of the Geo Barents after the incident: "Help us!", according to a reporter from the news agency AFP. The "Geo Barents" entered the port of Catania on Sunday. Italian authorities allowed 357 migrants, including children, to disembark, but 215 others had to remain on board. One of them was later taken to the hospital with acute abdominal pain.
According to Doctors Without Borders, many of the people staying on board suffer from "infectious skin diseases" and are under great psychological stress. The options for treating sick migrants on the ship are limited.
The German-flagged rescue ship "Humanity 1" is also anchored in the port of Catania. As of Sunday, 144 minors and the sick had been given permission to go ashore. According to the sea rescue organization SOS Humanity, 35 men had to stay on board. Those affected were assessed as healthy. However, no translator was present during the investigation, and no psychological assessment was carried out.
Interior Minister Piantedosi said on Monday that he was working on a national and European level to find a solution for dealing with the migrants on board the rescue ships.
The UN called for all migrants on the rescue ships to be allowed ashore immediately. A coalition of 20 non-governmental organizations, including Oxfam and Human Rights Watch, also published an "urgent appeal". In it they called on Italy, Malta and the EU to end the "suffering" of the people stuck on the rescue ships and to grant them refuge.
Italy's new government, led by ultra-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, has announced a restrictive course in dealing with boat people. Two other ships have been waiting for days off Italy's coast for permission to disembark their rescued people. One of the ships, Mission Lifeline's Rise Above, has reportedly been assigned a port.
More than 500 migrants in distress off Malta were rescued by Italian authorities and taken to Sicily, Syracuse Prefect Giuseppa Scaduto told AFP. These people would first be screened and then sent to reception centers, she explained.