Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Ireland to receive migrants after Malta agreement

Ireland to receive migrants after Malta agreement

"The operation to transfer the migrants onto AFM vessels will start as soon as possible, after which the NGO boats will be asked to leave our waters immediately".

Malta allowed the two ships to shelter in port from a storm on Thursday, but it refused to let the migrants disembark.

A mother and a child disembark from a patrol boat in Malta.

The European Union's top migration official has thanked EU countries for agreeing to host 49 rescued migrants stranded at sea but complained that it had taken much too long to find them safe harbour.

Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a press conference at his office in Valletta, Malta January 9, 2019.

Of the 49 stuck at sea, 32 were rescued by the German vessel Sea Watch 3 on December 22, while the other 17 were picked up by Dutch boat Sea Eye on December 29. "Every hour that passed without a solution was not an hour I was proud of", he said.

The migrants have been stranded off the coast of Malta on the Sea-Watch and another boat since late a year ago, with no country allowing them to dock, suffering sea sickness and dehydration, with some briefly refusing food.

Sea Watch International welcomed that "the European Union made a decision to release their 49 hostages".

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Now, after coming closer to the Maltese coasts, according to internal sources of the Community bloc, the migrants will be sent to Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy, or repatriated.

"It is a testament to state failure; politics should never be played at the cost of people in need."

"Malta is a very small country", he said.

Italy's populist government split over the fate of those aboard Sea-Watch 3 and another private vessel, Sea-Eye, with Premier Giuseppe Conte saying that Italy was willing to take children and their parents, even as Mr Salvini remained defiant.

"An ad hoc agreement has been reached", said Muscat.

The migrants at the center of the EU-brokered deal are among the waves of people from Africa, Asia and the Middle East who fled poverty and armed conflicts and risked their lives aboard smugglers' boats bound for Europe in recent years.

Malta has announced that it will allow two ships, stranded for weeks with 49 migrants and refugees on board, to dock.

Police in Spain said Wednesday they broke up a gang that allegedly smuggled people and drugs on boats from Morocco and charged migrants up to 2,000 euros ($2,300) a trip.

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