Malta refuses to let migrant ship dock, awaits EU deal
VALLETTA: Malta plans to keep 57 rescued migrants aboard a private ship anchored just outside territorial waters until the European Union finds a way to rehouse them, Prime Minister Robert Abela said on Friday.
The migrants were plucked from a dinghy earlier this week inside Malta’s search and rescue zone by a commercial fishing vessel that had been chartered by the Maltese government to intercept possible asylum seekers.
The group were subsequently transferred to a launch normally used for tourist harbour cruises, with the EU agreeing to meet the cost of the operation until a decision had been made on where the men should go, Abela said. “This is not Malta’s problem, although we are doing more than is expected of us. Other EU member states must shoulder the burden too. Malta and Italy cannot be left alone,” Abela told a news conference.
“We closed our ports and airport to cruise passengers and tourists and it does not make sense to then let migrants in,” he said, referring to restrictions introduced in March to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus. - Reuters