More than 250 migrants have arrived at the Italian island of Sicily after a non-governmental organization (NGO) collected them from the sea during 'rescue' operations near Africa, according to reports.
The crew of the NGO vessel Open Arms had been seeking entry into a European port after bringing aboard hundreds of migrants in recent days.
After reportedly being rejected by Malta, Open Arms was welcomed to Sicily, which has been overrun by steady stream of migrants arriving with the help of human traffickers and NGOs.
On New Year's Eve, Open Arms picked up group of around 170 migrants in a boat "drifting off the coast of Libya," InfoMigrants reported.
Two days later, another 96 migrants were fetched from a "second boat adrift in international waters," Open Arms announced on social media.
The passengers of the second vessel were identified as hailing mostly from Eritrea.
"Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Open Arms was not allowed to enter the port of Porto Empedocle. Instead, the majority of the migrants will be brought to a quarantine ferry outside of the harbor," InfoMigrants reports, citing Italian media.
In July, over 700 migrants escaped multiple quarantine centers on Sicily, where they had been held after arriving en masse from Africa.
Over 27,000 migrants landed on Sicily during 2020, according to figures provided by the UNHCR.
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