VALLETTA (AFP) – Malta said it has authorised 40 migrants aboard a rescue ship run by German NGO Sea-Eye to disembark following an agreement reached among several European Union (EU) countries to take them in.
The deal was announced after the migrants on the Alan Kurdi ship, rescued on Wednesday off Libya, had been barred from landing in Italy.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has taken a hard line against migrants entering the country.
The migrants arrived in the Maltese capital Valletta yesterday, the Maltese government said.
The German government and the European Commission made arrangements for the migrants to be shared among several EU countries, it said.
None of the 40 migrants will remain in Malta and the Alan Kurdi – named after a Syrian toddler who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea – will stay in international waters as they disembark.
The government gave no indication which countries had agreed to take them in.
But Portugal said on Saturday that it was prepared to accept five of those on board, and that France, Germany and Luxembourg had offered to take others.
Salvini on Thursday said the German government had told the European Commission that unless the 40 migrants onboard the Alan Kurdi were allowed to disembark in Italy it would not take in a group of 30 migrants it had already promised to accept.