Malta accepts over 420 migrants after 40 days at sea
Malta decided on Saturday night to allow the disembarkation of around 425 migrants who spent more than a month at sea while the country was waiting for solidarity from other European states, Trend reports citing Xinhua.
The Maltese government rented the boats, which are usually used to ferry tourists, to continue fulfilling its international obligations to save lives of people in distress at sea.
In a statement issued late on Saturday evening, the government said the decision to allow migrants on all four boats into Malta was taken because the situation on the vessels had deteriorated due to a "commotion" abroad.
Reports earlier in the day suggested that the crew and some 20 security officers on board had to take refuge in the upper level of one of the vessels following what was described as trouble among the migrants on board.
But sources said the situation on board the vessels had deteriorated due to the bad weather that hit the Mediterranean Sea, with force 8 winds and high waves.
"The government is not ready to endanger the lives of the crew and individuals, including Maltese citizens, working with these immigrants due to the lack of action and solidarity by other European states for these migrants to be redistributed among other EU states," the government said in its statement.
It said its efforts to continue securing a relocation deal was still underway. It promised to fast-track the asylum process for the migrants arriving from countries deemed as safe. Those whose asylum applications are turned down will be returned home within days, the government said.
"This case shows that despite promises of solidarity, no other European countries were willing to share the burden," it said.