European countries agree to distribute migrants from rescue ship among several countries
After a long negotiation between several European countries, a solution is emerging for the fifty-eight migrants on board the Aquarius migrant rescue ship picked up over the weekend off the coast of Libya. The Maltese government announced on Tuesday that it would temporarily take in the migrants before they are spread among several European countries.
“The migrants will be transferred from the Aquarius to a Maltese Armed Forces vessel, said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Maltese TV, adding that while Malta expresses solidarity with the people on board it “will not accept any migrants from the 58 who are on board this vessel. Instead, they will be “immediately distributed” between several countries, said the Maltese government. Portugal has said that it will host ten of them, under an agreement concluded with France and Spain.
Threatened with losing its sailing licence after Panama’s decision to revoke its registration, the Aquarius had asked France for authorisation to disembark its passengers in Marseilles, but the French Government replied that the ship was to land in Malta, according to the nearest safe harbor rule.
At the UN headquarters in New York, Emmanuel Macron said he was “sometimes aware of giving the feeling of not giving in to good feelings easy” but if he followed this path, “it would feed xenophobic extremes in our country and it would not solve the situation for the long term, “the French President said.
On BFMTV, Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of Economy and Finance, had also explained France’s decision not to allow the ship to dock in Marseilles. “There are European rules: a migrant boat must dock to the nearest European coast. Today, it is not the port of Marseille that is closest. As a result, “for now, she (France) says no, because if we want to have a coherent migration policy, we must respect European rules.”