Migrant ordeal comes to an end: Stranded migrants finally land in Malta

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat addresses a press conference at his office in Valletta Malta

The Netherlands is one of eight countries which will take in some of the 32 migrants who have been living on a boat since they were rescued from off the coast of Libya almost three weeks ago.

The 49 migrants, including a baby and several children, were rescued while attempting the unsafe Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe.

PM Joseph Muscat named them as Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy.

Another 78 will be allowed to stay in Malta, while 44 Bangladeshi migrants will be repatriated.

But with no country allowing them to dock, they were left stranded off the coast of Malta, suffering sea sickness and dehydration, with some briefly refusing food and an onboard doctor warning of psychological stress.

Pope Francis, at the weekend, appealed to European leaders to show "concrete solidarity" and give the migrants "a safe port".

They have both been sailing back in forth in Maltese waters for weeks after Italy, Malta and other European Union countries refused to offer them a port of safety.

In a tweet, Sea Watch International said: "The EU chose to release their 49 hostages".

Alter said eight countries have now indicated their willingness to take in the migrants but talks are ongoing with more.

"It is a testament to state failure; politics should never be played at the cost of people in need."

But Muscat issued a warning to future rescuers: "I reiterate, as I did before, that this case shall not act as a precedent".

The eight countries that will take them in include Italy, whose anti-migrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, had vowed for days that none would reach Italian soil.

The migrants will be transferred to Maltese military ships that will bring them ashore.

"Whether it's eight or 88, I'm not authorizing anyone to enter Italy", Salvini told reporters in Poland, during a visit to his allies in the right-wing populist government there.

"Caving to the pressures and threats of Europe and the non-governmental organisations is a sign of weakness that Italians don't deserve". He said that Germany still aims to reach "a long-term and sustainable mechanism".

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