The Aquarius rescue ship has reached Malta’s main port carrying 141 migrants rescued off Libya last Friday but whose landfall was delayed as European states bartered over who would take them.
Cheers went up on the ship as the vessel docked in the port of Senglea on Wednesday. The ship carried 97 males and 44 females mostly from Somalia and Eritrea, including 67 unaccompanied minors.
Malta on Tuesday agreed to allow the migrants to disembark as part of an EU deal that the island nation called “a concrete example of European leadership and solidarity.” The migrants were initially to be distributed distributed among France, Luxembourg, Germany, Portugal and Spain, but in a statement on Wednesday evening the government said Italya had agreed to join in.
Following the announcement of a joint cooperation between 5 member states to redistribute all immigrants on board the MVAquarius, the Italian Government has contacted the Maltese Government to participate in the initiative, the government said..
(Photos above, top Domenic Aquilina)
In a first statement, the government said the MV Aquarius disembarked at Boilers Wharf, Senglea, Malta at 2pm.
The Armed Forces of Malta assisted in the disembarkation while the health authorities examined the immigrants. A total of 12 immigrants, including two pregnant women and 5 infants under five years of age, were escorted to Mater Dei Hospital.
The rest of the immigrants were escorted to the Marsa Initial Reception Centre where their needs are being adhered to by the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers.
The disembarkation was supervised by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The ad hoc process for the redistribution of the immigrants between France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal will be coordinated by the Maltese authorities with the assistance of the respective foreign delegations.
The claimed nationalities of the immigrants are from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Egypt, Eritrea, Morocco and Somalia.
The Immigration Section of the Police Corps is carrying out the necessary investigations.
The Civil Protection Department, Transport Malta and the Port Authorities also assisted with the operation, the government said.
Members of NGOs greeted vessel with banner “everyone has a right to life”.
Members of another NGO vessel Lifeline, which is still docked in Malta after arriving here in June, welcomed arrival with ship blowing its horn.
Right wing group Patrijotti Maltin members were also present with banner “stop human trafficking”.
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