African migrants from the ship Diciotti, play football in the compound’s garden, in Rocca di Papa, 20 km South-East from Rome, 29 August 2018. Photo: EPA-EFE/CLAUDIO PERI
The government of Montenegro has said it will receive up to five refugees and migrants who disembarked at a port in Sicily after the Italian authorities kept them on the ship for days.
“The Government, having acknowledged the principles of humanity and solidarity with people in need as a traditional value of Montenegrin society, confirmed many times in our history, decided that Montenegro should accept up to five migrants from the Diciotto,” the government said on its Twitter account on Thursday evening.
Montenegro confirmed on August 30 that it had been approached by Italy and asked to take in a number of migrants and refugees, to help end a 10-day standoff with the ship docked off the Italian coast at Catania.
Podgorica said then it was still mulling whether to take the mostly African-origin migrants and refugees, but had not yet taken a stance.
“Unanimously, the Government of Montenegro confirms its commitment to the European value system and affirms human dignity,” it said on Twitter on Thursday.
Vlada je, uvažavajući principe humanosti i solidarnosti sa ljudima u nevolji kao tradicionalne vrijednosti crnogorskog društva potvrđene mnogo puta u našoj istoriji, odlučila da #CrnaGora na molbu #Italija prihvati do pet migranata sa broda #Diciotto (1/2) pic.twitter.com/5qL75hUhBI
— Vlada Crne Gore (@VladaCG) September 6, 2018
The vessel arrived on August 19 with 177 migrants on board, but the Italian Interior Ministry denied them the right to disembark, calling on EU member states to help to distribute them first.
Reportedly, 27 unaccompanied minors were let off the ship on 22 August, assisted by the Red Cross, UNHCR and Save the Children.
Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, who leads the anti-migrant League party, refused to let the migrants off the “Diciotti” until other EU nations had agreed to take in some of the asylum-seekers, most of them young men from Eritrea.
The Italian authorities say about 650,000 people have reached Italy from North Africa since 2014, and the country’s new populist government has vowed to stop the surge.
So far, only Ireland and Albania have offered to help with the migrants, agreeing to take some of those stuck off the Italian coast.
Meanwhile, many of those migrants held for several days on the Italian coast guard ship Diciotti in the port of Catania are hosted at the Church center, some 20 kilometers South-East from Rome.
Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia have all seen an increase in numbers of refugees and migrants heading north to EU member state Croatia since the beginning of 2018 – a total of 6,700 from January until the end of May, more than twice the number registered in these three countries for the whole of 2017.
In the first five months of this year, the government of Montenegro registered about 1,500 illegal crossings, far more than in the previous year.