By Baris Seckin
ROME (AA) - 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.
Italy's right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had previously denied a safe port to the vessel, but on Saturday he authorized children to leave the ship on the insistence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, according to local media reports.
In a Twitter post, Proactiva Open Arms, the Spanish NGO, said a total of 27 unaccompanied children under the age of 18 were allowed to disembark on Italy's Lampedusa Island.
The ship had rescued some 160 migrants in early August and has been waiting in the Mediterranean Sea for a port.
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 since the beginning of 2019. As many as 840 died at sea, according to the International Organization for Migration.
More than 30,500 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while taking the treacherous journey to Europe, the IOM said in January.
*Writing By Faruk Zorlu