Four EU countries to take rescued migrants after Med standoff
Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg agreed to share the responsibilityEuropost
Malta struck deals with four European Union countries to take in the 64 African migrants, including 12 women and a baby, who were rescued by the German ship Alan Kurdi and stranded at sea for almost two weeks, the Maltese government announced on Saturday.
"All 64 migrants onboard Alan Kurdi will be disembarked and redistributed between Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg thanks to effective coordination by the European Commission and Malta," Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said, adding: “A solution was found in order not to let the situation deteriorate further while making it clear Malta cannot keep shouldering this burden.”
“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,” Muscat continued.
France's Interior Minister Christophe Castaner confirmed the news on Twitter, as well.
"I confirmed that France, like Germany and several other European partners, will show solidarity and welcome the refugees aboard the Alan Kurdi, allowing them to disembark at Valletta," Castaner wrote, adding that his country will take 20 of the migrants on board.
German NGO Sea-Eye rescued the migrants off Libya 3 April, on a ship named Alan Kurdi, after a three-year-old Syrian refugee boy who was found dead in 2015 as his family tried to reach Europe. The rescue ship, however became the latest to be left adrift off the coast of Europe where governments are increasingly trying to push migrants back towards Africa.
Alan Kurdi first tried to land in Italy, but was denied entry with Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini repeating that migrant vessels are not welcome at the country’s ports and claiming that Berlin should take them instead. He eventually agreed to let two minors and their mothers disembark, but they refused to do so without the children's fathers, who were not allowed off the ship. The ship then headed for Malta where it wasn't allowed to enter either unless it has a commitment from other EU nations that they will immediately take them. Both countries had also insisted it was Libya’s responsibility to take in the boat, Sea Eye said earlier in the week.
This is not the first time, Maltese and Italian authorities refuse to allow migrant boats to dock. Last year, French NGO' rescue ship Aquarius had to wait at sea with more than 600 people on board after the two countries did not allow them to enter.