Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

Migrant ordeal comes to an end: Stranded migrants finally land in Malta

39;Sea-Eye' docked in Malta in December 39;Sea-Eye' docked in Malta in December
Kenny Thornton | 10 January, 2019, 17:32

Seventeen people on board another ship and 249 rescued migrants already in Malta will also be divided up between the eight countries as part of the deal, Malta said.

The 49 migrants, including a baby and several children, were rescued while attempting to make the treacherous Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe.

The deal, announced by Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Wednesday, will see European Union countries including Italy take in 49 migrants stranded aboard private rescue ships since last month.

The migrants have been stranded off the coast of Malta on the Sea-Watch and another boat since late past year, with no country allowing them to dock, suffering sea sickness and dehydration, with some briefly refusing food.

Malta will take in 78 of the 298 migrants itself.

"The unsafe, unseemly spectacle of politicians bickering whilst women, men and children are stranded in a sea of cruel indifference, must not be repeated", she said.

In a tweet, Sea Watch International said: "The EU made a decision to release their 49 hostages".

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The 49 migrants were on two ships refused permission to dock by both Italy and Malta. "After 19 days at sea, our guests will finally reach a safe port".

Thanking civil society for its support, Sea Watch commented: "Disembarkation can not be subject to negotiations between states at the expense of people".

Migrants rescued by ships have frequently been left in limbo since Italy's populist anti-immigration government began turning them away last summer.

The disembarkation marks the end of an nearly three-week ordeal, which saw European member states refuse the disembarkation of the rescued people until a relocation agreement was reached.

"I am and I will remain absolutely against new [migrant] arrivals in Italy", he said on Twitter.

"To give in to pressure and threats from Europe and NGOs is a sign of weakness that Italians don't deserve", he added. He said that Germany still aims to reach "a long-term and sustainable mechanism".

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