TEMPO.CO, Madrid - Five European Union (EU) states agreed to take in scores of migrants stranded for weeks on board a crowded rescue ship, EU authorities said on Wednesday, ending a prolonged standoff with Rome over their fate.
The around one hundred mostly African migrants, picked up in the Mediterranean from early August onwards by the Open Arms, had been forced to remain on the Spanish-registered vessel after the Italian government refused to allow it to dock in line with a closed ports policy it adopted last year.
They finally disembarked on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Tuesday night after an Italian prosecutor ordered the ship's seizure and evacuation. Several of the migrants jumped overboard and tried to swim to shore.
Spain, France, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal had agreed to take all of them in, said a European Commission spokeswoman in Brussels. Authorities in Madrid and Lisbon confirmed their readiness to participate.
EU states have been at loggerheads over migration since a spike in Mediterranean arrivals in 2015, with bitter feuds over how to handle refugees and migrants damaging the bloc's unity. EU leaders are due to discuss the issue again when they meet in Brussels mid-October.