Italy on Saturday permitted a total of 27 migrant children to get off a Spanish NGO-owned rescue ship, which has been waiting in the Mediterranean Sea for a port for 16 days, local media reported.
The migrants picked up off the coast of Libya, most of whom are African, are waiting to disembark on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has ordered his officials not to let them do so, although on Saturday he made a partial concession, saying he would allow any children to leave the boat. He added that he had only agreed to this at the insistence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
A total of 107 migrants remained on board after disembarkation of 27 children and evacuation of 26 other migrants from the ship due to the urgent need for medical attention.
Over 39,000 irregular migrants and refugees have reached Europe by sea and 840 died at sea since the beginning of 2019.
More than 30,500 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while taking the treacherous journey to Europe,International Organization for Migration said in January.