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Migrant rescue boat to dock in Malta this evening: PM

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AFP Velletta
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the NGO rescue ship Lifeline, which has been stranded for days in the Mediterranean carrying over 200 hundred migrants, will dock in Malta this evening.
"I believe the vessel will reach our shores this evening," Muscat said Wednesday, adding that seven EU nations -- Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Ireland, Belgium and France -- in addition to Malta had so far agreed to take a share of the migrants on board.
Muscat said "first the migrants will be distributed" then the vessel will be impounded pending an investigation.
Run by the German NGO Mission Lifeline, the boat picked up 234 migrants -- including pregnant women and children -- off the Libyan coast last Thursday.
Muscat said Malta had sought a solution to avoid a "humanitarian crisis" despite having "no legal responsibility" given the events took place in the Libyan search and rescue area.
Mission Lifeline has come under fire from EU leaders, who accuse it of contravening international law by rescuing the migrants when the Libyan coastguard was already intervening.
Muscat also said a full investigation would be launched into the Lifeline's legal status and actions once it arrived.
He added that the ship, which sails under the Dutch flag, had "inadequate registration" and Dutch authorities had denied it had permission to fly the flag. He also accused the ship of "switching off its transponder at various times".
Muscat said that the migrants on board would be processed and "genuine asylum seekers will be afforded protection", while "procedures will be started immediately to return those that do not qualify... in accordance with law." Muscat said he believed more EU members states would offer their assistance, but added that some had refused.

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First Published: Jun 27 2018 | 6:15 PM IST

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