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Sea-Eye migrants allowed to disembark in Malta

July 7, 2019

The 65 migrants on board German-flagged rescue ship Alan Kurdi have been taken ashore to Malta, the Maltese government has said. They will be relocated to other EU countries. The ship is operated by the Sea-Eye charity.

Sea-eye crew with migrants
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/F. Heinz

The 65 migrants on board the German-flagged rescue ship Alan Kurdi have been taken ashore to Malta and will be transferred to other EU member states, the Maltese government said in a statement on Sunday.  

Maltese authorities said they had rescued a further 50 migrants in the country's search and rescue zone on Sunday, after receiving a distress call. 

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said on Sunday evening that Germany would welcome up to 40 migrants — 15 to 20 from the Alan Kurdi and the rest from the second group — "in the spirit of European solidarity." 

Earlier, Seehofer had written a letter to Italy's anti-immigration interior minister, Matteo Salvini, asking him to rethink his policy on accepting rescue boats, sources close to the German government said. "We cannot be responsible for boats with people rescued from shipwrecks on board spending weeks on the Mediterranean because they can't find a port," Seehofer wrote.

None of the migrants disembarked from the Alan Kurdi will remain in Malta, said Prime Minster Joseph Muscat, "as this case was not under the responsibility of the Maltese authorities." Three people on board in need of urgent medical attention will be immediately evacuated, he added

Sea-Eye earlier reported that all three had collapsed in the heat. Two of them are reportedly minors.

The ship's crew had asked for an emergency evacuation of the three passengers, a Maltese official cited by Germany's dpa news agency confirmed. Maltese authorities agreed to it.

Denied permission to dock

The ship had previously waited near the Italian island of Lampedusa. Two migrant rescue ships recently defied Italian authorities to dock without permission in Lampedusa, angering populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

According to Sea-Eye, Italian police had barred the group's entry, prompting the crew to set course for Malta. 

In a deal negotiated with the European Commission and the German government, EU partners "will also take at least half of the 58 migrants" rescued separately by the Maltese navy. 

Read more: Malta bans Sea-Eye migrant rescue ship from its waters

kw/ng (AFP, dpa)

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