Malta agrees to grant entry to German boat with 40 migrants on board

Migrants arrive the Italian island of Lampedusa

(File photo) African migrants in Italy

A group of 40 migrants stranded at sea after they were rescued by a German NGO vessel will be taken into Malta before being redistributed among European Union countries, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Saturday.

“Following request by Germany, Malta will allow 40 migrants on German vessel #AlanKurdi to transfer to Armed Forces of Malta asset, enter port.

German government and EU commission arranged for all persons to be distributed among number of EU states,” Muscat tweeted.

No details were given as to which countries had offered to take in the migrants.

The rescue vessel Alan Kurdi spent Saturday just outside Maltese waters, having been turned away by Italian authorities outside Lampedusa on Friday.

The German non-governmental organization Sea-Eye had asked Malta earlier Saturday for permission to allow the ship and the migrants on board into its harbour.

Gorden Isler, a spokesman for Sea-Eye, had said he hoped for a solution within hours.

After being denied entry by Italy earlier this week, the Alan Kurdi set sail for Malta.

Hundreds of migrants have landed in Malta this year amid a major blockade of migrant rescue vessels by Italy’s far-right Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

Barbara Held, operation leader on board the ship, had earlier appealed to the Maltese government in a video. “Don’t let us down,” she said, adding that Sea-Eye was hoping for a “humane solution.”

On Saturday morning, two pregnant women who were rescued in the Mediterranean by Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms earlier this week were taken to safety by the Italian coastguard, the organisation’s head, Oscar Camps, said.

The migrant women were nine and eight months pregnant, and had been picked up by the coastguard along with a nurse. One of the women had gone into labour, Proactiva said on Friday.

The Proactiva ship is carrying 124 migrants who were rescued from waters off the Libyan coast. The vessel is currently still seeking a safe harbour, after Italy also denied it entry into its ports. (dpa/NAN)