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

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

Malta will take in the 49 migrants stranded on two humanitarian rescue ships since last month, said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Wednesday at a press conference.

The Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, Luxembourg and Italy have offered to take in the group, which includes six minors, three of whom were travelling alone.

A further 44 Bangledishi migrants which had been rescued by Malta will be deported to their home country in an operation that will be coordinated by European Union authorities.

Thirty-two people were picked up off Libya on 22 December by the Dutch-registered vessel Sea Watch 3, operated by a German humanitarian group, while the Sea-Eye - a second ship run by a different German charity - rescued another 17 people on 29 December.

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

Celebrations aboard the Sea Watch on Wednesday.

The deal calls for 300 migrants to be redistributed between eight countries, including Ireland.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Wednesday that "the past weeks have not been Europe's finest hour".




Malta will take in 78 of the 298 migrants itself.

"Malta is a very small country", he said.

But with no country allowing them to dock, they were left stranded off the coast of Malta, suffering sea sickness and dehydration, with some briefly refusing food and an onboard doctor warning of psychological stress.

"I am and remain absolutely against any new arrivals in Italy", Mr Salvini said on Twitter.

A mother and a child disembark from a patrol boat in Malta.

The European Union's border agency Frontex says about 57,000 migrant crossings were detected past year in Spain, double the figure for 2017.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte has said that if Italy takes about 15 rescued migrant children and their parents that wouldn't "stain" the country's crackdown on accepting migrants rescued by private aid vessels.


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