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Malta detains German captain of stateless migrant vessel

After receiving a migrant ship with over 230 migrants on board, the Maltese police interrogated the German captain of the vessel. While the other crew members were allowed to leave the ship, Captain Claus-Peter Reisch was brought back on board, reported news agency dpa.

Published: June 28, 2018, 9:53 am

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    The captain of the Lifeline is accused of ignoring the instructions of the Italian authorities. According to the government in Rome, the “refugee relief” workers had requested that the Africans in distress be rescued by the Libyan coast guard.

    But according to the Dresden “refugee” aid organization Mission Lifeline, the Coast Guard did not come quickly enough to help.

    The Lifeline was blocked by Italy and Malta and the 234 immigrants were landed in the harbor in Senglea off Valletta. Six people, including three infants, were reportedly hospitalised.

    Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had previously announced that he would seize the ship with 17 German crew members. The reason for this is because the ship is currently stateless. The captain claims that it was sailing under the Dutch flag, but authorities have denied it.

    The Maltese Government had accepted the ship on the condition that other EU countries take part in the reception of asylum seekers. In addition to Malta, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg gave their support.

    Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) however refused on the grounds that from the German point of view there is currently no need to help in the case of the 234 migrants.

    A spokesman for Mission Lifeline, Axel Steier has accused Seehofer of acting like Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is fighting illegal immigration. “He acts like a German version of his Italian colleague Salvini and he makes the German government complicit in the lack of help for people at risk,” the Italian daily La Repubblica quoted Steier.

    Meanwhile, the United Nations has sharply criticized the European Union for the Lifeline operation. Because the EU is being “politically paralyzed”, innocent people are suffering, the UN refugee agency and the International Organization for Migration complained.

    Shortly before the forthcoming EU summit in Brussels, they called for EU countries to find a joint solution for the region as soon as possible in order to prevent further unnecessary dying at sea.

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