Netherlands to take in Sea Watch refugees, Malta says

Refugees on a Sea Watch ship
Refugees on board the Sea-Watch 3 rescued from a ship sinking near Libya. December 2018Photo: Chris Grodotzki / Sea-Watch

The Netherlands and seven other EU countries will take in refugees who are currently stuck on a ship belonging to rescue organization Sea-Watch, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta announced in a press conference on Wednesday. The ship has been hovering off the coast of Malta for some time, because it was not allowed to moor anywhere, reports.

This involves a total of 49 people. The largest group of 32 people was rescued by the Sea-Watch crew in the Mediterranean before Christmas. Another ship, the Albrecht Penck, has 17 people on board. 

Late last year the Netherlands asked several countries around the Mediterranean Sea to offer a safe haven to Sea-Watch. Sea-Watch is a German organization that rescues people from the sea. While the Sea-Watch 3 sails under the Dutch flag, the Netherlands as flag state was not obliged to arrange a safe harbor, according to 

Earlier this week Sea-Watch announced that a solution needs to be found soon. The situation on board is dire and the ship threatens to end up in a storm expected on Thursday. That a solution now seems to be found is "very good news", a spokesperson said, according to the newspaper. The organization expects to be able to moor in Malta during the course of the day.

According to Sea-Watch, the situation on board is stable. "People became increasingly desperate because of the lack of clarity and they are exhausted, but they do have enough to eat and drink."