Dozens of people protest in front of the Geo Barents ship in Catania, Sicily, demanding that migrants trapped in a standoff between charity ships and Italy’s new hard-right government be allowed to disembark.
Three migrants rescued from the Mediterranean last week jumped into the sea on Monday, a sign of desperation after days onboard the NGO vessel.
The men were quickly pulled from the water near the Geo Barents ship, according to operator Doctors Without Borders (MSF), as it was docked in Catania with more than 200 people on board.
It is one of a handful of charity vessels that save migrants at risk of drowning during the perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe, and which are now in the crosshairs of new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government.
Shortly after the men jumped – apparently one had been trying to save the other two – a dozen other migrants standing on the deck of the ship chanted “Help Us”, an AFP journalist reported.
In a joint statement on Monday, UN agencies the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration all urged the embarkation of the migrants “without delay”.