E.U. Countries Agree to Take Migrants After Rescue Ship Standoff

Category: Europe,World Malta said Saturday that four European Union nations would accept 64 migrants rescued at sea off Libya 10 days ag...

Category: Europe,World

Malta said Saturday that four European Union nations would accept 64 migrants rescued at sea off Libya 10 days ago.

In a statement, Malta’s government said that the migrants will be sent to Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg. The migrants are being transferred to Maltese vessels and brought to port after days of uncertainty.

However, Malta said the German-flagged aid ship, named Alan Kurdi after a young Syrian boy who drowned during the crossing from Turkey to Greece in 2015, will not be allowed to enter its ports, and none of the migrants will remain in Malta.

“Once again, the smallest member of the European Union was put under unnecessary pressure, being asked to resolve a case which was neither its responsibility nor its remit,” the government said. “A solution was found in order not to let the situation deteriorate further while making it clear Malta cannot keep shouldering this burden.”

The transfer of migrants from the Alan Kurdi to Maltese Army boats was conducted at sea and the Maltese Army was expected to return to dock by Saturday afternoon.

Malta has argued it cannot open its ports to humanitarian rescue ships because their activities off Libya encourage human traffickers.

The German NGO Sea-Eye had detailed worsening conditions aboard the ship for the 64 migrants. Two have been evacuated in recent days because of health issues. On Friday night, a member of the ship’s crew was also airlifted off the vessel. In recent days, Sea-Eye had documented the deteriorating conditions on the ship, posting video on social media of dozens of people, including women and children, sleeping on a cramped deck.

The organization criticized the decision from Malta to block the ship from entering port while the negotiations over the fate of the migrants onboard were underway.

“It is simply unexplainable why it was necessary for people to stay on board during the long negotiations, while governments negotiated over 64 individual fates,” Gorden Isler, the chairman of Sea-Eye said in a statement. “What about the pressure that has been put on our crew and 64 rescued people for 11 days?”

Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has repeatedly rejected calls to allow the ship to enter Italian ports, hailed the deal.

“Excellent news!” he tweeted, soon after the deal was announced. He praised Malta for “doing the right thing by denouncing the dangerous and undue pressures exerted by the NGOs.”

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Newsrust: E.U. Countries Agree to Take Migrants After Rescue Ship Standoff
E.U. Countries Agree to Take Migrants After Rescue Ship Standoff
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