Malta will permit five Tunisian migrants stranded on migrant rescue ship Alan Kurdi to disembark after two European Union countries agreed to take them in, the Maltese government said on Tuesday September 10th.
The five were part of a group of 13 migrants who were rescued off Tunisia at the end of August. Eight have already been transferred to Malta for medical reasons, with some having attempted suicide, according to the ship’s crew.
Malta had refused to allow the charity boat to enter its waters.
Vessel operator, Germany-based NGO Sea Eye, filed a protest against the Malta government in a Maltese court last week. It said that Malta had a duty to take in the migrants because they were picked up in its search and rescue zone.
Malta did not say which countries would take in the migrants.
A group of migrants recently rescued by NGO rescue ships and brought to Malta pending their transfer to other countries, scaled wire walls and unfurled banners demanding ‘freedom’ and ‘humanity’ at a detention centre on Monday.
They protested that they had been held in detention for several weeks with no indication of when they would be released.
Around 356 migrants were picked up by the rescue ship Ocean Viking were brought to Malta in late August. They are due to be distributed to France, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania.
Katrine Camilleri, a lawyer who works for various immigration NGOs, said that 800 migrants were being held at the Safi detention centre, near Malta airport.