First group of migrants from MV Aquarius departs for France
Yesterday morning, the first group of immigrants who disembarked in Malta from aboard the MV Aquarius on 15 August departed Malta to be relocated in France.
The immigrants were assisted by the International Office of Migration Authorities, local authorities, officials from the French home affairs ministry as well authorities from the French embassy in Malta.
Deputy Ambassador Vanessa Salas Pouget – who was present at the airport – said that this relocation effort represented a prime example of how European solidarity could achieve results to rapidly resolve cases requiring timely solutions to address humanitarian urgencies. She emphasised that this group of immigrants could now look forward to a safe life in France.
All 141 immigrants who arrived in Malta aboard the MV Aquarius will be relocated to France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Spain.
The relocation arrangement was part of an ad hoc solidarity agreement in response to the humanitarian crisis aboard the vessel which emerged following discussions between France and Malta and a number of other EU member states with the support of the European Commission.
On 15 August Malta made a concession allowing the vessel to enter its ports, despite having no legal obligation to do so. Furthermore, Malta served as a logistical base throughout the crisis.
On 13 August Malta had also rescued a further 114 persons at sea, 60 of whom will also be distributed among other member states as part of the joint EU cooperation.
This is the second time such a voluntary solidarity mechanism has been put into place, following that relating to the humanitarian crisis relating to the MV Lifeline.
All countries except Italy have honoured the pledges committed in the ad hoc solidarity mechanism created to address the situation of the MV Lifeline.
Italy had threatened to renege on that agreement when the latest migrant standoff – the one involving the coast guard ship Diciotti – took place.