A group of 40 migrants rescued by a German charity ship landed in Malta and will be taken care off by European Union member states following a German negotiated deal.
The 40 were rescued last week from a small boat off Libyan by NGO Sea Eye’s ship Alan Kurdi. The ship sailed to southern Italy, saying the port of Lampedusa was the closest and safest harbuor.
On the same day, Italy’s right-wing interior minister Matteo Salvini announced the ship was banned from Italian waters.
Late on Saturday, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a deal with the European Commission, following a request by Germany.
“Malta will allow 40 migrants on board the German vessel Alan Kurdi to transfer to a Malta Armed Forces asset and enter port,” Muscat said in a tweet. “No migrant will remain in Malta.”
Sea Eye said the Libyan coastguard advised the Alan Kurdi to port in Libya, but she refused.
“We obey international law and will not bring anyone back to a civil war country,” Sea Eye said in a tweet. “Libya is not safe!”
Salvini, also Italy’s deputy prime minister, staked much of his political credibility on halting migrant flows.
Shutting Italian ports to charity rescue ships is a frequent strategy to force the EU’s hand in dealing with migrants.