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  • Rescued migrants rest aboard the Ocean Viking ship at the Mediterranean Sea, August 21, 2019.

    Rescued migrants rest aboard the Ocean Viking ship at the Mediterranean Sea, August 21, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 23 August 2019

Migrants on board the Ocean Viking vessel will be distributed in several countries thanks to an agreement with the European Commission.

The Government of Malta confirmed Friday that Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Romania will host 356 migrants on board the Ocean Viking, a Norwegian-flagged rescue vessel chartered by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Méditerranée.

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" [We] welcome [the fact] that a solution for the persons aboard Ocean Viking has been found and that all [that they] will be relocated," the European Union (EU) Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said, regarding the 356 African migrants, 103 of whom are minors.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter that the Ocean Viking's migrants would be picked up in international waters and then transferred onshore by Maltese military boats.

France said it would take in 150 of them, after initially committing to sheltering only 40. Portugal said late on Thursday it was ready to take up to 35 migrants.

The Ocean Viking's plight has exposed Europe's failure to come up with a coherent policy to deal with migration from Africa through Libya, for the EU countries have been at loggerheads over how to handle refugees since 2015.

"The Open Arms, a French delegation arrives after a quarantine of migrants in Lampedusa."

Meanwhile, the 83 African migrants that were on board of the Open Arms vessel and landed in Lampedusa (Italy) on August 20, are still expecting to know in which country they will be relocated. The Spanish warship Audaz is already anchored next to the Italian island to pick up 15 people who the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has promised to welcome.

"The ship is ready to receive the people we have to move to national territory," Spanish captain Emilio Damia said explaining that he is waiting for instructions. "I'm in direct contact with my command", he said.

The Open Arms vessel was immobilized in Sicily on Thursday by Italian authorities arguing that they found some "serious anomalies" which prevent the ship from sailing again.

The Spanish charity informed that it will correct all these "anomalies" as quickly as possible, for its intention is to return to the Mediterranean sea to continue saving lives.

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Pedro Sanchez
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