Ireland to take in child migrants rescued at sea

Clay Curtis
January 10, 2019

Following Wednesday's deal, Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused the European Commission of "facilitating the work of smugglers and NGOs".

Of the 49 stuck at sea, 32 were rescued by the German vessel Sea Watch 3 on December 22, while the other 17 were picked up by Dutch boat Sea Eye on December 29.

In a press conference, Muscat confirmed that Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy have agreed to take in the migrants that had been rescued by the NGO vessels Sea Watch 3 and Prof.

Earlier this week, Sea-Watch said some of those aboard were distraught about the stalemate, which left the boat at the mercy of rough seas for many days.

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

Some were refusing food to protest the stalemate, and the migrants' physical and psychological health were deteriorating.

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

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European Union rules oblige countries where migrants first land to process any asylum claims, placing a heavy burden on Mediterranean states like Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta.

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

Malta will take in 78 of the 298 migrants itself.

But EU members have failed to agree on a permanent mechanism to relocate migrants who reach Europe's shores, even though arrivals have dropped sharply since a peak more than three years ago. Malta now cleared the way for them to disembark.

"Whether it's eight or 88, I'm not authorizing anyone to enter Italy", Salvini told reporters in Poland, during a visit to his allies in the right-wing populist government there.

Muscat, who has previously complained that his country has to bear an unfair share of migrant numbers, insisted Malta had "never closed its ports and it is still a safe port".

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