Malta has agreed to take in an estimated 425 migrants who have been kept aboard four private boats for the past few weeks.
In a statement, the government said it has taken this decision after the situation “became very difficult and commotions arose on board”.
“The government isn’t ready to endanger the lives of the crew members and the people on board, including Maltese nationals, who are working with these migrants due to a lack of solidarity shown by other EU member states in terms of relocating them,” the statement read.
The government said it will continue its “intensive” negotiations with EU member states to relocate the migrants and “accelerate” the asylum application process for migrants from countries considered safe.
Rejected asylum seekers will be returned to their home country after a few days.
“Malta was left alone but stood firm, while practically no European country accepted these migrants, despite all their talk of solidarity,” the government said.
“While Malta will honour its international obligations, it is more resolute than ever to work with Libya to find an effective and concrete solution against human traffickers.”
The government ended its statement by saying the Libyan coast guard intercepted around 1,500 migrants in recent weeks before they could enter Maltese waters.