CATANIA, Italy (Reuters) – Thirteen sick migrants docked the Italian rescue vessel on Saturday for five days in a Sicilian port. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said he is working on a "positive solution" for the remaining 137 people on board.
Migrants wait for the Italian coast guard ship "Diciotti" on August 22, 201
The migrants, mainly from Eritrea, have been stranded in the port of Catania since Monday because the Italian government refuses to let them out of the boat until other EU states agree to take some of them ,
The United Nations called on Saturday for a reason from all sides for a meeting of ambassadors from 10 EU The states in Brussels the day before could not overcome the deadlock.
"Frightened people who may need international protection should not get caught up in politics," the UN refugee agency UNHCR said in a statement.
It called on EU Member States, in line with an agreement at an EU summit in June, to "urgently" offer resettlement places to rescued persons, and in the meantime, call on Italy "to allow the immediate disembarkation of persons on board . "
The only response on Saturday came from outside the EU, with Albania offering to host 20 of the migrants.
Italy's Foreign Ministry called the offer "a sign of great solidarity and friendship, which Italy greatly appreciates."
Salvini is in talks with other non-EU countries ready to follow Albania's example, said a source of the Interior Minister.
Italy's anti-establishment government, which took office three months ago, has refused to let up despite criticism from human rights groups and the opposition.
The migrants who quit on Saturday – seven women and six men – were ordered by doctors from the boat after a mid-day check-up.
Eventually, six hours later, they left the boat one by one and, for the first time since leaving Libya at least ten days ago, stepped back down a stairway to touch dry land. They were taken by ambulance to Catania, Garibaldi hospital.
The doctors had recommended that all eleven women on board be dropped off, but four refused to let their partners on board.
Italian media reported that among the migrants who left the boat, three suspected cases of tuberculosis and two cases of pneumonia occurred. Local medical officials did not confirm this.
"PERSPECTIVES OF SUCCESS"
More than 650,000 people have arrived on the Italian coast since 2014, and Rome says it will stop docking rescue ships if migrants are not distributed across the EU.
"I am completely undisturbed and working with good chances of success on a positive solution," said Salvini, leader of the right-wing league party, adding that he considered the criticism he received as a "badge" of honor , "
Stefano Principato, a representative of the Red Cross, said the health of most of the migrants still on board was" not particularly critical, "adding that their problems are" more psychological than physical.
Early week Italy allowed 27 unaccompanied minors to leave the ship, evacuating 13 people who urgently needed hospital treatment.
Most young men now aboard shelter from the sun under one some green tarpaulins, which cover about half of the deck, are hung to dry with clothes fastened to them, and some occasionally wave to reporters gathered in the harbor.
Around 200 demonstrators gathered in the port of Catania on Saturday, some waving Flags of left-wing movements and parties demanded that migrants be allowed to disembark.
Meanwhile, Sicilian prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio in Rome interrogated several Interior Ministry officials in a criminal investigation against "unknown persons" for beating the migrants on board against their will
Salvini has full responsibility for took over the actions of his ministry and declared that he should be charged personally with him and asked the prosecutor to arrest him.
Separately, a group of charities on Saturday appealed to an administrative court in Catania to urge migrants to leave.
The league's 5-star movement, the league's coalition partner, has so far supported Salvini's hard line, and his Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli, who is responsible for the country's ports, renewed the government's attacks on the EU.
"Nobody can teach Italy its humanitarian efforts," he said. "The government only urges the EU to make sense of its own existence."
Letter from Gavin Jones; Editing by Helen Popper and Ros Russell