Ireland to take in migrants stranded on Mediterranean rescue ship

Ireland to take in migrants stranded on Mediterranean rescue ship
(Hannah Wallace Bowman/MSF/Sos Mediterranee via AP)

Ireland is among six EU countries which have agreed to take in migrants stranded on a rescue ship in the Mediterranean.

The 365 men, women and children will be transferred to land by the Maltese navy before being relocated to the agreed countries, the prime minister of Malta has confirmed.

The Irish Refugee Council has said that this is a "very welcome and important development."

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Equality could not confirm how many people will be relocated to Ireland.

The statement said Minister Charlie Flanagan has decided that Ireland will accept "up to 100 asylum seekers" between now and the end of 2019.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner confirmed that "150 will be welcomed" to France in the next few days.

The remaining 215 will be distributed amongst Ireland, Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania.

The Norwegian-flagged rescue ship, the Ocean Viking, has been sailing between the island of Linosa and Malta for 14 days.

(Photo SOS Mediterranee via AP)
(Photo SOS Mediterranee via AP)

The ship is carrying mostly people from Sudan who have been rescued from the sea and includes more than 100 children, 90 of them unaccompanied, Médecins Sans Frontières have said.

In a statement, MSF said that EU governments "must stop these prolonged delays and ad hoc petty negotiations."

(Photo SOS Mediterranee via AP)
(Photo SOS Mediterranee via AP)

Jay Berger, MSF Project Coordinator on board the Ocean Viking, said there is relief that the ordeal for those on the ship is finally over.

"Was it necessary to impose two weeks of excruciating wait for rescued people to be disembarked? These are people who have fled from desperate circumstances in their home countries and suffered horrific abuses in Libya", he said.

The EU Commissioner for Migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, has tweeted that a solution has been found for all those on board and praised the countries who agreed to relocate the migrants.

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