Stranded rescue ship with over 200 on board docks in Malta


Valletta: More than 200 refugees and migrants have reached land in Malta, after nearly a week being stuck at sea while European Union (EU) leaders argued about their fate.
The humanitarian ship, Lifeline, docked in the capital Valletta, but only after eight countries agreed to take a share of the refugees and migrants on board.
Once the ship reached land, however, it was ordered impounded, and the captain of the German ship, Claus-Peter Reisch, was placed under investigation for allegedly breaching maritime regulations.
The Maltese government said Lifeline is not registered as a search and rescue ship, has failed to obey the orders of the Italy’s coastguard, and often switched off its transponder to disguise its position, raising suspicion that the ship could be deliberately helping smugglers.
French President Emmanuel Macron also criticised the ship’s captain, saying he “acted against all the rules,” by not turning the refugees and migrants over to Libyan authorities after they were found floating in rubber dinghies in Libyan waters.
The head of mission said Italian authorities opened the investigation against it, and suspects political motives under the new anti-migration government in Rome, because the Lifeline operated without problems last year.
“We started last year in September and we started here in Malta, too. We had five missions with this boat last year and rescued 549 people,” Axel Steier, head of Lifeline mission told reporters in Valletta.
Humanitarian groups have pushed back, with Doctors without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, Amnesty International and two other groups asking to meet Macron over his assertion.
“Engineered panic and fear-mongering by European politicians over migrations is steering the EU towards very dangerous waters,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement.


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