April 13, 2019 / 9:14 AM / 4 months ago

Four EU countries to take rescued migrants after Med standoff

Migrants who were stranded on the German NGO Sea-Eye migrant rescue ship Alan Kurdi disembark from an Armed Forces of Malta patrol boat at its base in Marsamxett Harbour, Valletta, Malta April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

VALLETTA (Reuters) - Four European Union countries have agreed to take in 64 African migrants rescued by the German ship Alan Kurdi and stranded at sea for almost two weeks, the Maltese government announced on Saturday.

The ship, operated by the humanitarian organization Sea-Eye, had been refused entry by Italy and Malta, but two migrants were evacuated to Malta earlier this week because of poor health.

Both countries had insisted it was Libya’s responsibility to take in the boat, Sea Eye said earlier in the week.

The Maltese government said that through the coordination of the European Commission, the migrants will be redistributed among Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg.

“None of the migrants will remain in Malta. The ship Alan Kurdi will not be allowed to enter Malta,” the government said.

“Once again the smallest member of the European Union was put under unnecessary pressure, being asked to resolve a case which was neither its responsibility nor its remit,” the government added.

“A solution was found in order not to let the situation deteriorate further while making it clear Malta cannot keep shouldering this burden.”

In March, Malta received 108 migrants after the small tanker which rescued them was hijacked by some of the migrants themselves. Maltese soldiers stormed the vessel and escorted it to Malta.

Three teenagers have since been taken to court and are under arrest. 

Reporting by Chris Scicluna; Editing by Jan Harvey

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