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Malta allows migrant rescue ship to dock, ending standoff

Malta allows migrant rescue ship to dock, ending standoff

CASTILLE: A humanitarian ship that has had about 230 rescued migrants on board for almost a week entered a Maltese port on Wednesday, ending a standoff with Italy which refused to let the ship dock.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said seven European Union countries had offered to share the burden of the migrants with Malta. The Lifeline ship, operated by German charity Mission Lifeline, docked at around 1600 GMT.

The Lifeline is the second charity ship that Italy has shut out of its ports this month after the new anti-immigrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said private rescue vessels would no longer be welcome because they “cannot dictate Italy’s immigration policy”, Muscat said that permitting the ship to dock in Malta was a one-time, or “ad-hoc”, resolution to the standoff.

Italy, Ireland, France, Lux­­­embourg, Belgium, the Neth­erlands and Portugal “agre­­ed to collaborate to offer a Euro­pean solution”, a statement from Muscat’s office said.

“This is a great victory,” Italian Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter, while Salvini called it “another success of the Italian government”.

The ship will be detained and the captain questio­ned, Muscat said, because of its refusal to leave the migrant boats to be intercepted by the Libyan coastguard, as it had been told to do by Italian authorities.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2018

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