MORE than 200 migrants who were stranded at sea on a charity rescue boat for six days have been allowed to go ashore in Malta.
The asylum-seekers, taken aboard the Lifeline Mission as they tried to reach Europe from Libya, will be vetted to see if they qualify for asylum.
Migrants deemed eligible will be distributed to eight EU countries in a deal struck to end a stand-off after both Malta and Italy refused to take them in.
Malta’s prime minister Joseph Muscat said the Lifeline Mission ship would be impounded and the crew investigated. They are suspected of ignoring an order to let the Libyan coastguard pick up the migrants, who were in the African country’s waters.
Mr Muscat said Malta was not obliged to receive the migrants but he wanted to avoid a ‘humanitarian crisis’. The countries that have agreed to accept some of them are France, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium and Malta.