Italy lets in NGO ship's migrants, other vessels in limbo

STORY: The Rise Above boat docked in the port of Reggio Calabria, in the toe of Italy, shortly after dawn and the 89 people it had picked up in the Mediterranean were let ashore.

"We are relieved that the rescued people are finally safe on land," the German charity Mission Lifeline, which runs the Rise Above, said in a statement, condemning what it called an "undignified political game" that had kept them at sea.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's two-week-old administration has moved swiftly to impose a crackdown on boat migration, telling charity vessels that regularly ply the Mediterranean to take rescued people to other countries.

The government initially kept four ships at sea and although it allowed two to dock in Sicily at the weekend, it has only let off the most fragile migrants, mainly women and children, leaving about 250 still onboard.

The captains of the two boats, one operated by German charity SOS Humanity and the other by France's Doctors without Borders (MSF), have refused orders to put to sea again with the remaining migrants and are challenging the edict in the courts.

A third ship, Ocean Viking, which is run by French charity SOS Mediterranee, remains off the coast of Sicily with some 234 migrants aboard. They were picked up from the sea off Libya 17 days ago and have repeatedly demanded access to an Italian port.