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Ireland to receive migrants after Malta agreement

10 January 2019

The eight countries that will take them in include Italy, whose anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, had vowed for days that none would reach Italian soil.

Interior Ministry spokesman Steve Alter stressed in Berlin Wednesday that the move for European Union countries to share out numerous 249 migrants already rescued by Maltese military ships - plus 49 who have been stranded aboard private rescue vessels - is "an ad hoc decision. for the current situation".

The crew on the migrant rescue vessel had said the situation on the ship was "dire" after more than two weeks of those rescued stranded at sea.

The deal also involves the resettlement of more than 100 other migrants already in Malta, he announced.

The deal announced on Wednesday meets his condition - most of the 249 migrants, rescued from Libya-based smugglers' unseaworthy boats, will be taken to other European Union countries, while some will remain in Malta.

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.

Malta last week allowed the boats to shelter near its coasts from the bad weather but would not let them disembark the migrants.

Celebrations aboard the Sea Watch on Wednesday.

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Another 78 will be allowed to stay in Malta, while 44 Bangladeshi migrants will be repatriated.

The migrants involved in the EU-brokered deals are part of waves of people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa, Asia or the Middle East, who have risked their lives aboard smugglers' boats to try to reach European shores in recent years.

Germany expects to take in 60 migrants who were already in Malta or are about to arrive there under an agreement to defuse the latest standoff over rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea.

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

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

"It is a testament to state failure; politics should never be played at the cost of people in need."

Malta has reached a deal with other European Union member states to allow 49 migrants aboard two rescue ships off the coast of the island nation to disembark. "The government won't fall, but I will be asking for immediate clarification in the coming hours, as soon as I get back to Italy", he said. He said that Germany still aims to reach "a long-term and sustainable mechanism". "Giving in to the pressures and threats of Europe and NGOs is a sign of weakness", he said.

Some 113,482 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe previous year, according to the United Nations refugee agency, which said 2,262 people lost their lives or went missing making the perilous journey.

Ireland to receive migrants after Malta agreement