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German Ship with 62 Migrants Onboard Allowed to Berth in Malta

14th April 2019
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The Alan Kurdi The Alan Kurdi

A German ship with 62 migrants which had been blocked for ten days from landing in Mediterranean ports has been allowed to berth in Malta writes Lorna Siggins.

As Afloat reported previously, The Alan Kurdi - named after three-year-old Syrian Kurdish refuge Alan Kurdi who was washed ashore on a Turkish beach in September 2015 - had appealed for assistance after Italy and Malta had initially refused it entry.

The ship run by a German charity Sea-Eye is the last remaining migrant rescue vessel deployed by a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the Mediterranean.

The Alan Kurdi (italics) had reported that it was short of food, water, medicine and other supplies. Two women on board had already been evacuated to Malta for urgent medical reasons.

Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini said Germany should take the migrants as they had been rescued on April 3rd off Libya by a German NGO.

The impasse was broken after Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), a rescue NGO founded by a Malta-based couple with Irish links, intervened to assist the stranded German ship.

French interior minister Christophe Castaner also said on Friday that EU partners would “show solidarity” towards those on board, including 12 women and two young children.

The Alan Kurdi docked in the Maltese harbour of Valletta at the weekend, and Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat said that Germany, France, Portugal and Luxembourg had agreed to take the migrants.

He said that none of the migrants would remain in Malta, which “cannot shoulder this burden alone”.

Sea Eye criticised the time it had taken to allow the ship to berth and said a compromise must be found.

MOAS was founded in 2014 by millionaire Christopher Catambrone, an American of Irish and Italian descent, and his Italian wife, Regina.

Explaining its decision to intervene last week, MOAS noted that recent escalating violence in Libya only “enhances the need for the creation of safe and legal routes for vulnerable people in desperate need of protection”.

Ireland was recently informed that its involvement in the current EU migrant response operation will change, with the downgrading of Operation Sophia.

The Naval Service ship LE Eithne will not be deployed to the Mediterranean as had been anticipated later this month.

Ireland initially became involved in migrant rescue in 2015 in a bilateral agreement with Italy, and switched to the EU operation, focused more on surveillance and interdiction of people smugglers off Libya, in July 2017.

Published in News Update
Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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