Norway joins group of eight EU member states in ad hoc initiative on stranded migrants relocation

The MV Lifeline was allowed to dock in Malta on Wednesday after a group of eight member states agreed to share the migrants among themselves

The MV Lifeline was allowed to dock in Malta after over a week at sea
The MV Lifeline was allowed to dock in Malta after over a week at sea

Norway has stepped in and offered to take its share of the migrants that were on board the MV Lifeline, which was yesterday allowed to dock in Malta.

The ship had 233 migrants on board and had been at sea for almost a week after it was refused entry into Italian and Maltese ports.

The situation was eventually resolved when Malta allowed the ship to enter its port after eight member states – Malta, Italy, France, Portugal, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium – agreed to take a share of the migrants, in what has been described as an ‘ad hoc agreement’.

The agreement followed days of negotiation, with the Netherlands and Belgium opting to take a share of the migrants after Prime Minister had started to address a press conference on the matter on Wednesday.

In a tweet on Thursday morning Muscat announced that Norway had also offered to joined the initiative. Although not an EU member state, Norway is part of the European Economic Area.

In a statement, the Maltese government thanked Norway for its decision to participate in the initiative. It said the migrants who were on board the vessel were undergoing a preliminary assessment at the Marsa Initial Reception Centre, after which the distribution of genuine asylum seekers would immediately start.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the agreement only applied to this “unique” case. He said that an investigation would also be held into the action of the ship’s crew.

The announcement comes ahead of the EU Council summit which begins today and during which migration in the Mediterranean will be a top priority. Muscat, as well as other European leaders, have stressed that the summit needed to result in tanglible operational solutions based on European solidarity.

READ ALSO: Lifeline rescue vessel docks in Malta as migrants are transferred to Marsa centre

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