The migrant rescue ship MV Lifeline entered into Maltese territorial waters on Wednesday to weather out difficult conditions onboard.
The ship is off the Maltese coast for five days. Currently, the boat carries 70 unaccompanied minors, 14 women, three babies and a child.
Following negotiations between France, Italy and Malta, the German Lifeline NGO rescue ship was granted permission to dock in Malta on Tuesday. However, when the ship docks, the Maltese government may detain the captain for ignoring instructions by Italian authorities and disrupting the rescue work of the Libyan coastguard, the Times of Malta report.
The ship carries 234 migrants. It remained offshore for five days, stranded between Libya and the Italian island of Lampedusa. On Monday evening Italian authorities allowed Lifeline to transfer 106 migrants onboard the Danish cargo ship Alexander Maersk, which docked at Pozzallo.
Had the Lifeline docked in Italy, the government threatened to impound it. However, rough weather made a resolution of the crisis at hand urgent.
An agreement between the prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday allowed for the resolution of the second crisis of its kind over the last two weeks. The deal was facilitated by an earlier meeting between the Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte and President Macron on Monday evening, the Italian news agency ANSA reports.
Four EU member states are willing to take in the migrants: Italy, Malta, France and Portugal. Germany, Spain and the Netherlands will also consider taking in some of the migrants.
The Italian government is arguing that NGO vessels are not merely rescuing migrants at sea but are seen as parts of a transport system by traffickers, who abandon migrants to be ferried by humanitarian organizations.
Furthermore, the Italian Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini, accuses NGOs of hampering the work of the Libyan coastguard and the Italian navy, who take rescued migrants back to holding centres in Libya. Humanitarian organizations argue that migrants are not safe in Libya.