Ireland to welcome five unaccompanied child refugees rescued from the Mediterranean

Ireland to welcome five unaccompanied child refugees rescued from the Mediterranean
File image of a migrant ship

Ireland is taking in five unaccompanied minors who are among 49 migrants and refugees stranded at sea.

They have been sailing back and forth in Maltese waters for weeks, and eight European Union countries will now take them in.

They had been rescued off the coast of Libya in December.

It would bring the number of migrants to be relocated from Malta to another member state to 224 people.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has this evening confirmed five minors will be taken in under the Irish Refugee Protection Programme as a gesture of solidarity and humanitarian assistance.

He said: "These children have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea in humanitarian search and rescue missions and have been through a terrible ordeal.

"They will be welcomed to Ireland under our Irish Refugee Protection Programme, which has a proven record of helping those who are most vulnerable.

"We will ensure that they are provided with all of the necessary supports.”

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says the situation regarding the stranded ships was outside the country's area of responsibility

"Malta the smallest EU member state is once again being called upon to shoulder responsibilities way beyond its remit.

"The case involving Sea Watch 3...took place outside of Malta's area of responsibility. We were not the responsible authority."

He added: "Malta is a very small country. It is in our nature to assist those in distress. But as Prime Minister, I cannot shirk the responsibility of safeguarding Malta's national security."

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