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Malta to let stranded asylum seekers disembark ahead of redistribution in EU

Malta to let stranded asylum seekers disembark ahead of redistribution in EU

"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".

"The head of the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy (FCEI), Luca Maria Negro, said in a press release, shortly after Malta's announcement: "[FCEI] has told the Interior Minister we are available to welcome some of the refugees from Sea-Watch who are arriving in our country.

Under the same deal, many of some 249 migrants Malta said its military boats picked up last month also will be transferred to other countries.

The 49 migrants, including a baby and several children, were rescued while attempting to make the treacherous Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a deal, brokered by the European Union, to end the uncertainty over the migrants who are now aboard two aid vessels.

The German NGOs Sea Watch and Sea Eye called for an urgent solution in late 2018 after saving 49 citizens in the Mediterranean, the first 32 when they had been 9 days at sea and the remaining 17 on Saturday December 29.

Sea-Watch said that the migrants finally have a "safe haven" after three weeks at sea.

The deal also involves the resettlement of more than 100 other migrants already in Malta, he announced.

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

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.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said Wednesday that "the past weeks have not been Europe's finest hour".

"Malta is a very small country", he said. Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte offered to take in some of Malta's migrants, saying there was a limit to the policy of "rigour".

"We welcome this show of solidarity and understanding that Malta is going beyond what is required of us", said Mr Muscat.

The European Union's border agency Frontex says about 57,000 migrant crossings were detected past year in Spain, double the figure for 2017.

"I am, and remain, against new arrivals in Italy", said Salvini, who has spearheaded the government's tough stance of denying access to NGO-run migrant-rescue ships to Italy's ports.