One day before the meeting of several EU interior ministers in Malta, Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn has called for a new EU maritime rescue mission. Asselborn told the Welt am Sonntag that it is a "humanitarian imperative" for the EU to participate in the rescue of refugees in distress. He also called on all EU countries to participate in the reception of migrants rescued from distress.
"In the long term, the distribution of rescued migrants can not be limited to five or six EU countries," said Asselborn. At least twelve states would have to "fulfill their responsibilities and receive rescued migrants from the central Mediterranean".
Interior ministers discuss distribution mechanism
The interior ministers from Germany, France, Italy and Malta as well as representatives of the EU Presidency Finland and the EU Commission want to discuss a fixed mechanism for the distribution of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean on Monday in Malta. This should put an end to the sometimes weeks-long blockades of civil rescue vessels. Italy under former Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Malta refused to dock unless the reception of refugees by other EU countries was clarified.
Criticizing such a mechanism, Asselborn pointed out: "If there is always a pull effect, then the alternative would be to let people drown in the first place." But there is a "logic of humanity" that should follow Europe, stressed Asselborn. Horst Seehofer (CSU), who also attended the meeting, had agreed in advance to accept the admission of a quarter of the rescued refugees.
Italy leaves rescued migrants in port
Meanwhile, Italy has again landed rescued migrants ashore - a sign of a turnaround in refugee policy after the change of government. The authorities assigned the Sicilian port of Messina as a safe haven to 182 rescued migrants from the rescue vessel Ocean Viking , SOS Méditerranée said late on Twitter on Twitter. "We are relieved that for the second time in a week Italy opens a port for people rescued in the Mediterranean." The ship is operated by SOS Méditerranée and MSF.