Migrants from a German rescue ship that was not allowed to enter Italy will be taken to a port in Malta before sending them to other European countries, Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Sunday 7th July, Reuters has reported.
The German ship Alan Kurdi, with 65 immigrants on board, decided on Saturday to change course to Malta after a crisis with the Italian government.
Italian immigration policy has led to disputes between NGOs and the Italian authorities over rules that effectively ban vessels from docking in Italian ports.
Muscat said in a tweet on Sunday that after talks with the European Commission and Germany, the migrants would be transferred to one of Malta's boats and then to one of Malta's ports.
"All the rescued people will be immediately transferred to other EU member states," he said, adding that none of the migrants would remain in Malta.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer welcomed the action in a statement and said 94 out of a total of 123 migrants aboard ships allowed to dock in Malta would be transferred to EU member states. "In the spirit of European solidarity, we will take about 40 of them," he said.
New rules approved last month by the Italian government impose fines of up to €50,000 on vessels of non-governmental organisations entering Italian territorial waters without authorisation, as well as the confiscation of ships.
German Minister for European Affairs Michael Roth said in a press conference on Sunday that he thanked the government of Malta for its action on the Alan Kurdi ship. "What we really need is a sustainable European solution based on solidarity, humanity and effectiveness," Roth said.