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10 January 2019, 05:36 | Darnell Patrick
39;Sea-Eye' docked in Malta in December
On Wednesday, in Spain, police there said they broke up a gang that smuggled people and drugs by boat from Morocco into Spain, charging migrants up to 2,000 euros ($2,300) a trip.
Joseph Muscat, prime minister of Malta, announced the details that end the deadlock that began when 32 people were rescued by the Dutch-flagged humanitarian rescue ship "Sea-Watch 3" on 22 December.
A migrant, part of a group of 49, reacts towards the media as he and others disembark from one of Malta's AFM Protector-class coastal patrol boats.
In a press conference, Muscat confirmed that Germany, France, Portugal, Ireland, Romania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Italy have agreed to take in the migrants that had been rescued by the NGO vessels Sea Watch 3 and Prof.
The situation on board both ships was said in recent days to be deteriorating, with food and water running short.
The deal calls for 300 migrants to be redistributed between eight countries, including Ireland.
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"Malta is a very small country and it is in our nature to assist those in distress, but as Prime Minister I can not shirk the responsibility of safeguarding our national security and national interest".
A child is transferred to a coastguard vessel to be taken to Malta.
Italy's government appeared divided on the latest decision.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said five unaccompanied child migrants would be taken in from Malta as a gesture of solidarity and humanitarian assistance.
In addition, the countries will also take in numerous 249 migrants already in Malta.
But Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, of the right-wing League party, said the decision by the European Union countries was "facilitating the work of smugglers and NGOs".
"Whether it's eight or 88, I'm not authorizing anyone to enter Italy", Salvini told reporters in Poland, during a visit to his allies in the right-wing populist government there.
"To give in to pressure and threats from Europe and NGOs is a sign of weakness that Italians don't deserve", he added.
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