6 EU Nations to Take in Stranded ‘Ocean Viking’ Migrants
Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat has announced on Twitter that following discussions with the European Commission, 6 EU member states have agreed to relocate the 356 migrants stranded aboard the Ocean Viking ship.
The Norwegian flagged ship is operated by French charities SOS Mediterraee and Mèdecins Sans Frontières.
Following a stand-off over permission to disembark, it has spent the last 14 days sailing between Malta and the Italian islands of Sicily and Lampedusa.
The ship rescued the migrants on board in 4 separate operations over a 4- day period from August 9th. The ship patrolled the waters off the Libyan coast searching for vessels attempting to carry migrants to the EU.
The Maltese PM named France, Germany, Ireland, Luxemburg, Portugal and Romania as the willing nations. He said Maltese armed forces vessels will take the migrants ashore.
His statement reiterated that none of the migrants will be relocated in Malta.
A statement issued by the Maltese Government said, ‘Malta has agreed to be part of the solution in the Ocean Viking stalemate, without prejudice to its legal position.’
In a statement SOS Mediterraee Director of Operations Frédéric Penard, criticised the response to the situation from the Governments of EU member states. He said, ‘The role Malta, other Member States and the European Commission have had in leading this disembarkation into a place of safety shows cooperation is possible to avoid unnecessary standoffs in the central Mediterranean.
We hope that the ad hoc solution implemented today will transform into the predictable and sustainable disembarkation mechanism promised many times by several European Union Member States.’
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Dimitris Avrampoulous, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship said that he welcomed the solution for those aboard the Ocean Viking.
He commended the Maltese Government and its Prime Minister for their solidarity.
He praised the 6 EU member states that have agreed to relocate the migrants and said that ‘These commitments must now be honoured swiftly.’
The French Government has agreed to take 150 of the migrants on board while Portugal has said it will take up to 35. It remains unclear how many migrants each the other 6 member states will accommodate.
According to Mèdecins Sans Frontières 100 of those on board the ship are minors. 90 of those are unaccompanied by adults.
Photo by SOS Mediterranee/Twitter