Malta announced Saturday a deal to distribute among four EU nations the 64 migrants rescued at sea off Libya 10 days ago.
In a statement, Malta’s government said that the migrants will be distributed among Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg. The migrants are being transferred to Maltese vessels and brought to port.
However, Malta said the German-flagged aid ship, named Alan Kurdi, 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 is expected to return to dock at the port 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 has complained about worsening conditions for the 64 migrants. Two have been evacuated in recent days due to health issues.
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.”
This article provided by NewsEdge.