By Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak
ANKARA (AA) – At least 83 migrants stranded off Italy's Mediterranean coast in an NGO rescue vessel landed on the island of Lampedusa early Wednesday after 19 days of waiting, local media reported.
The migrants were in reasonable condition after they landed, ANSA English reported.
The Proactiva Open Arms -- a Spanish NGO-owned ship devoted to search and rescue at sea -- had been waiting in the Mediterranean Sea to dock at a port after rescuing some 160 migrants in early August.
Spain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal will take the migrants, Tove Ernst, European Commission spokeswoman, told a daily press briefing.
The relocation of migrants will take more than just “a matter of days,” said Ernst, adding that the EU Commission will do its best to speed up the procedure.
“Day 1: The day when Italian justice imposed common sense and humanity on this nonsense,” Open Arms tweeted about the migrants disembarking. “Today is the day to thank this enormous team for the effort, dedication and immense generosity in the most difficult mission we have lived through so far, mission 65.”
Italy's right-wing Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had denied a safe port to the vessel, but on Saturday he authorized children to leave the ship at the insistence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who stepped down on Tuesday.
After 15 migrants jumped into the sea and tried to swim to shore, officials accompanied by two doctors on Tuesday did on-board inspections of conditions on the ship.
After more than an hour-long inspection of the ship, it was ordered to let the migrants disembark immediately.
More than 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 (IOM).
More than 30,500 migrants died between 2014 and 2018 while taking the treacherous journey to Europe, the IOM said in January.
* Beyza Binnur Donmez in Ankara and Yusuf Hatip in Brussels contributed to this story