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THE 62 migrants abroad an over-crowded rescue ship in the Mediterranean have finally been allowed to disembark in Malta after spending 10 days at sea while European states squabbled over who would give them refuge.
Sea-Eye’s vessel the Alan Kurdi, named after the three-year-old Kurdish Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkey beach in 2015, were given permission to port in Valletta on Saturday.
“We are relieved that these people have finally reached firm land in a safer port in the EU but we by no means consider this case a victory,” Sea-Eye said in statement posted online at the weekend.
“Instead, it was once again a shameful episode in which EU member states unnecessarily prolonged an emergency at sea, the very same contries and institutions who now declare this a successful solution.
“Once more, the law of the sea, international law, and human rights law were brutally violated, as people were not immediately disembarked at the nearest place of safety ...
“For us, the civil society engaging in the rescue and welcoming of the distressed at sea, it is their dignity and rights that are central, that guide all of our practices.
“We know that this is not an easy moment for our continued struggle, particularly as we are being systematically targeted by EU governments and institutions as political enemies, simply for defending people’s right to live and survive and for working to restore accountability an the rule of law in the central Mediterranean Sea.
“However, the civil [search and rescue] fleet finds itself with no other choice but to step in where European member states have fallen short and neglected their legal obligations.
“It is in the sea where the future of our societies is at stake, now more than ever.”
Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg had agreed to split the migrants between them.
The International Organisation for Migration estimates 356 people have died while crossing the Mediterranean to Europe this year.
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