Updated | Lifeline standoff: Italian Prime Minister says migrant vessel will dock in Malta

Italian Prime Minister Giusppe Conte said he had spoken with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and the two agreed to investigate the ship’s crew • The vessel will be allowed in on condition that the migrants are distributed among other EU member states 

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said that the MV Lifeline will be disembarking its passengers in Malta.

The ship has been stranded in international waters for the past four days, after rescuing some 239 migrants within the Libyan search and rescue area on Thursday evening.

Conte said that ship’s captain and crew will be investigated in order to determine their nationality and whether their actions had respected international law.

According to Italian media, Malta has accepted to take in the vessel on the condition that the migrants on board are distributed among other EU member states.

“Italy will also be doing its part in accordance with its policy that migrants landing in Italy, Greece, Spain or Malta are landing on European shores,” Conte said.

Efforts underway to avoid humanitarian crisis

Earlier on Tuesday, the Maltese government said that diplomatic efforts led by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat are underway to find a solution to the case of the MV Lifeline.

It said that the current situation had been caused by the actions of the ship’s captain who ignored instructions given in accordance with international rules, by the Italian authorities and that efforts currently underway were without prejudice to Malta’s position at international law.

READ ALSO: Migrant vessel Lifeline could be allowed into Malta

“This effort has two facets: The first is to prevent the escalation into a humanitarian crisis by means of sharing of responsibility by a number of willing Member States,” the statement read.

“The second is to carry out investigations and explore actions that can be taken in regards to the actions of the said vessel.”

The Maltese government thanked the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and European Commissioner Jean Claude Juncker for their assistance in the ongoing effort to resolve the issue.

The government was reacting to comments by a French government spokesman who said that Muscat and French President Emmanuel Macron had provide a solution to the current situation.

"A European solution may be to have the ship dock in Malta. It is the solution that seems to be shaping up at the moment," the spokesperson said, adding that France was prepared to send a team to Malta to study individual asylum requests.

On Saturday, diplomatic sources told MaltaToday that talks were underway involving Italy, Spain, France and Malta, with a likely outcome being that the migrants are distributed among the four countries.

More in National

Get access to the real stories first with the digital edition

Subscribe