Italy ‘agrees to take migrants rejected by Malta’

A tanker carrying 102 rescued migrants is heading for Italy after Rome reportedly agreed to take them, ending a stand-off between Malta and the ship.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat thanked his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta, saying the decision would “reinforce” ties between the countries.

Malta had resisted EU pressure to take in the migrants, insisting the tanker should take them to Libya.

It argued that to accept them would set a “dangerous precedent”.

BBC map

The tiny island state receives thousands of illegal migrants heading to Europe each year.

The oil tanker M/V Salamis, which picked up the migrants en route from Libya to Malta, was heading for the Sicilian port of Syracuse as of Wednesday morning, according to the Marine Traffic website.

According to the Times of Malta, a new group of 86 migrants was brought to Malta on board a patrol boat on Wednesday morning, after being rescued off the coast.

On Sunday, 111 mainly African migrants arrived in a rubber dinghy at Delimara, on Malta’s south-east coast.

The European Commission told Malta on Tuesday it had a duty to admit the migrants – who reportedly include an injured woman, four pregnant women and a five-month-old baby – on humanitarian grounds.

Malta had told the captain of the tanker – the M/V Salamis – it did not have permission to enter its territorial waters and insisted its decision to deny entry was in keeping with international law.

Mr Muscat told EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy last month that the burden of immigration to the EU should not fall on its smallest member.

“Call us harsh, call us heartless, but we are not pushovers,” the Maltese prime minister said.



Filed in: English News, News

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