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IOM and UNHCR call for urgent resolution to Diciotti stand-off

23 August - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and IOM, the International Organization for Migration are appealing to the Government of Italy to allow rescued refugees and migrants on board the Italian coast guard vessel Diciotti to disembark.

A number of vulnerable people - including 17 persons in need of medical care and 27 unaccompanied children - have already been allowed to leave the vessel on humanitarian grounds. 150 passengers – all adults – currently remain on board the Diciotti, which has been docked in the Sicilian port of Catania since August 20th. 

“We commend the Italian Coast Guard for saving the lives of these men, women and children, but an urgent resolution to this impasse is sorely needed,” said Roland Schilling, UNHCR’s Regional Deputy Representative in Rome.  “Many of those on board may be in need of international protection and have already faced incredibly traumatic experiences.”

While welcoming the decision by Italy to allow some of the most vulnerable passengers to disembark, it remains crucial to allow everyone remaining on the vessel to also come ashore as their humanitarian needs cannot be fully met on board.

“Migrants arriving from Libya are often victims of violence, abuses and torture, their vulnerabilities should be timely and properly identified and addressed” added Federico Soda, Director, of IOM Coordinating Office for the Mediterranean and Chief of Mission for Italy and Malta.

While the number of people arriving in Europe by sea has decreased dramatically, more than 1,500 people have died on the Mediterranean Sea this year alone. Without timely and predictable disembarkation mechanisms alongside strong demonstrations of solidarity for rescued passengers, there may be delays in responding to distress calls - potentially jeopardizing the sanctity of the principle of rescue at sea.  European solidarity, support and collaboration have become more critical than ever.

In recent months, UNHCR and IOM have called for a regional arrangement for rescue and disembarkation of passengers in distress on the Mediterranean Sea.

For additional information

IOM: Flavio Di Giacomo Spokeperson – phone: +39 06 44 186 207 / 221 Mobile:+393470898996    Email: fdigiacomo@iom.int    
UNHCR: Barbara Molinario Public Information Associate – phone +393385462932