Italy has agreed to allow 450 migrants, who were picked up from an overcrowded boat Saturday, to disembark in Sicily. The migrants were rescued by two vessels from the European Union's (EU) Frontex mission.
So far, 57 women and children have been allowed to land in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo. Following an appeal, Italian authorities have said that France, Germany, Malta, Portugal and Spain all agreed to take 50 migrants each.
"In this context which always sees Italy in the frontline of saving lives at sea, I ask you for a clear sign on sharing the responsibility of managing the migrant issue," Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said in letters sent to the governments of the 27 other EU member countries.
“This is the solidarity and responsibility that we have always asked of Europe and now, after the results obtained at the last European Council, they are beginning to become reality,” Conte posted to social media. "Let's continue on this path with firmness and respect for human rights."
"Germany and Italy have agreed that, in view of the ongoing talks on closer bilateral cooperation on asylum, Germany is ready to accept 50 people in this case," a German Government spokeswoman said Sunday.
However, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis dismissed the request, saying relocating the migrants would “lead down the road to hell.”
Initially, Malta refused to allow the migrants entry, saying the boat was much closer to the Italian island of Lampedusa. And Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had said that the Frontex boats should “head south, to Libya or Malta” after the migrants had been rescued.