Rome

Italy praised for accepting 102 migrants refused by Malta

UNHCR, Red Cross and IOM praise decision

Italy praised for accepting 102 migrants refused by Malta

(see related story) Rome, August 7 - Leading international human rights organizations on Wednesday praised Italy's decision to accept 102 immigrants rescued by the Salamis tanker and refused entry by Malta. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Italian Red Cross praised Rome's green light to accept the migrants from Sudan and Eritrea following intense overnight diplomatic negotiations. The UN Refugee Agency expressed ''appreciation'' for the humanitarian value of Italy's decision and stressed the importance of ''cooperation and coordination among states'' in rescuing and welcoming migrants ''in need of international protection''. Among the migrants rescued by the Libyan-registered Salamis tanker off Libya's coast on Sunday were ''pregnant women and other persons in a condition of extreme vulnerability'' said IOM in a statement, expressing satisfaction for the end of the migrants' ordeal. The 102 Sudanese and Eritrean migrants included 81 men, 20 women, four of whom are pregnant, and a five-month-old infant. In such a situation, the organization protecting migrants' rights said, the priority is guaranteeing the security and health of immigrants. IOM cited European Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom who said that international disputes over which country should provide assistance to migrants needed to be postponed until after rescue operations were completed. The Italian Red Cross deployed 10 volunteers at the Sicilian port of Siracusa to help the migrants, who started arriving early on Wednesday afternoon on tax police cutters carrying them from the Salamis tanker. The organization's president Francesco Rocca thanked the Italian government for its decision to receive the migrants refused by Malta. Europe should now discuss a common strategy to accept migrants "so that we don't have to witness similar episodes anymore", said Rocca.

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