Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that the 234 migrants on the MV Lifeline will be disembarking in Malta and shared between eight EU countries that gave their commitment in an ad hoc agreement. In a conference held today at Castille, the Prime Minister said that the ship would be impounded upon arrival and an investigation into the captain’s actions would be held.
“This is an ad hoc agreement on this particular case… this was not like other instances which saw two member states in conflict but a situation precipitated by the actions of the captain who chose to ignore orders given to him by the Italian authorities that were coordinating the rescue,” he said.
The seven countries that committed to taking a share of migrants are Ireland, France, Portugal, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, along with Malta. They would be taking the migrants after processing occurs in Malta.
“It is too early to say how migrants will be distributed but it is safe to say that every member state will take migrants according to their capability but first we have to differentiate between asylum seekers and economic migrants,” Muscat said. He admitted that some member states have refused to collaborate.
The Lifeline will be landing in Malta this evening, it is expected. Migrants will be given medical attention before being processed. During this process, anyone found not to be eligible to remain in Malta or the European Union will be returned to their country of origin.