Published: Fri, January 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ireland to accept five migrants after agreeing deal with Malta

Ireland to accept five migrants after agreeing deal with Malta

The Netherlands is one of eight countries which will take in some of the 32 migrants who have been living on a boat since they were rescued from off the coast of Libya almost three weeks ago.

Malta said another 78 migrants would be allowed to stay in Malta, and 44 Bangladeshi migrants would be sent back to their country. Italy was another of the eight countries that agreed to let in migrants from the Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye ships.

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.

Almost 50 migrants stranded at sea for weeks aboard two rescue ships arrived in Malta on Wednesday after the island nation reached a deal with other European Union member states, ending a standoff that rights groups branded "shameful".

Like Malta, Italy has refused to let private aid vessels dock in its ports since past year.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said five unaccompanied child migrants would be taken in from Malta as a gesture of solidarity and humanitarian assistance.

The migrants will be transferred to Maltese military ships that will bring them ashore.

Italy's government appeared divided on the latest decision.

"I am and remain absolutely against any new arrivals in Italy", Mr Salvini said on Twitter.

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Salvini, who is also interior minister, leads the right-wing, anti-migrant League, one of two coalition parties in Italy's populist government.

"(In Brussels) they pretend not to understand and they facilitate the work of the traffickers and the NGOs.

"Caving to the pressures and threats of Europe and the non-governmental organisations is a sign of weakness that Italians don't deserve".

As well as Italy, Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have agreed to take in some of the group, Muscat said.

Many people have been heading to Europe from Africa and the Middle East across the Mediterranean in a flight from poverty or armed conflict.

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. "After 19 days at sea, our guests will finally reach a safe port".

Avramopoulos said the fact that some of the migrants had to wait at sea for three weeks "is not what the European Union stands for".

Frances D'Emilio reported from Rome.

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