Migrants onboard Aquarius to be distributed following agreement brokered by Malta and France

The Maltese government said it was participating in the effort on ‘purely humanitarian grounds’.

The MV Aquarius was allowed to disembark rescued migrants in Malta last month
The MV Aquarius was allowed to disembark rescued migrants in Malta last month

A group of migrants currently on board the MV Aquarius will be distributed among four EU member states, the Maltese government said on Tuesday.

The vessel is currently carrying 58 migrants, rescued within Libyan search and rescue waters. The ship had requested disembarkation of its passengers but was refused entry into Italy.

The Maltese government said in a statement that France and Malta had collaborated on a joint initiative to resolve the impasse over where the migrants would disembark.

“The 58 persons on board MV Aquarius will be disembarked on a Maltese asset in international waters—the persons will be disembarked in Malta and all of them will leave the country to be immediately redistributed in another four European Union member states,” the government said, adding that the operation would take place “as soon as it is logistically possible”.  

The government said it was participating in the effort on “purely humanitarian grounds and without prejudice to its position on SAR activities, which remain unchanged”.

Furthermore, the government said that given the fact that the vessel had been deflagged, the vessel would be proceeding to its home port in order to “rectify its stateless position”.

It said the governments of France and Malta remained committed to a multilateral and “proactive approach based on the rule of law and solidarity”.

Back in July Malta and France played a key role in brokering another agreement that saw a number of migrants that were on board the MV Lifeline, distributed among seven states.

In August, Malta allowed the Aquarius to enter its ports again following an agreement for the distribution of the migrants on board.

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