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Saturday 21 July 2018

Ireland to take in 25 migrants stranded on ship in Mediterranean

In this photo taken on Thursday, June 21, 2018, the ship operated by the German NGO Mission Lifeline is reached by a Libyan Coast Guard boat after they rescued migrants from a rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea in front of the Libyan coast. (Hermine Poschmann/Mission Lifeline via AP)
In this photo taken on Thursday, June 21, 2018, the ship operated by the German NGO Mission Lifeline is reached by a Libyan Coast Guard boat after they rescued migrants from a rubber boat in the Mediterranean Sea in front of the Libyan coast. (Hermine Poschmann/Mission Lifeline via AP)

Shona Murray

Ireland has tonight offered to take 25 migrants stranded on a migrant ship in the Mediterranean after it was refused entry to offload in any EU member state.

The German ship, the MV Lifeline has been at sea for five days with 230 rescued people on board.

Malta and Italy are two of the main landing spots for migrants coming from Libya – most of whom have used illegal smugglers to find their way out to sea.

But neither country would commit to taking any migrants unless the burden was shared by all member states.

The ship which is run by the charity mission 'Lifeline' rescued the migrants from a number of unseaworthy rubber dinghies last Thursday.

Conditions on board have seriously deteriorated, and workers have been tweeting photographs and warning of worsening situation.

One sick person was today airlifted due to illness.

The ship is currently 25 miles off the coast of Malta and will soon dock there as plans are afoot for several states, including Italy and Ireland, to take some of those on board for health and safety reasons. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan were being kept up to date on the situation throughout the day and, following discussions with Malta at an EU Council in Luxembourg, Tanaiste Simon Coveney made the offer for Ireland to take 10 pc of those rescued.

It’s the second time in a month that a boat full of refugees and migrants have been stranded in the Mediterranean.

The decision comes ahead of an EU Council meeting, which begins on Thursday, where migration will be top of the agenda.

The matter has re-emerged as a serious source of internal tension and acrimony among EU member states, Angela Merkel is under major pressure from her CSU coalition partners to adopt a more hostile immigration policy on the German border.

Ms Merkel has to come up with a suitable EU - wide policy by the end of this week’s summit to avoid further fragmentation both in Brussels, and her government.

She has to face down EU governments who take a hardline against migrants - in particular Italy, Hungary, Austria and Poland who prefer a ‘fortress Europe’ approach to the problem.

Meanwhile the Irish department of Justice is charged with bringing the rescued civilians - most of who are from South Sudan to Ireland over the next week or so.

The issue is only due to worsen as the summer is the best time of year to chance the treacherous trip across the sea to European shores.

The Irish defence forces have had an ongoing naval mission in the Mediterranean and have rescued more than 16,000 people to date.

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