Pope appeals for migrants stranded aboard rescue ships

People we spoke to in Valletta had mixed views on whether Malta should accept to take in the 49 migrants stranded on two NGO ships or not

Pope Enters Fray Over Migrant Ships, Appeals for Safe Ports

While not quite as categorical, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat also set out his reservations on Sunday. ".We are discussing with other countries and the European Union to tell us whose responsibility this case was, and if a similar situation arises, who takes responsibility".

Francis, addressing faithful in St. Peter's Square on Sunday, noted that the migrants, rescued in the Mediterranean Sea, have been waiting for days for permission for a safe port to let them disembark.

"There are those who have closed their ports and are flexing their muscles, while little Malta didn't kick up a fuss when it rescued 250 people recently", Muscat said on ONE Radio this morning. "We will not politically cave in to people who act the bully and who are doing as they please. No, this is not how things are going to happen", he emphasised.

Both Italy and Malta have refused to allow the two ships to land.

In fact, the Prime Minister noted, the Armed Forces of Malta had rescued 249 migrants without "complaining or dragging their feet" as these migrants were "literally sinking" and were in waters that Malta was responsible for. "We did this because it was within our obligations to do so... and we did it without dragging our feet".

Meanwhile, Salvini's resoluteness for Italy to not take the migrants in has been unwavering.

Muscat said that Malta's position when it came to dealing with migration was "very simple" and was based on namely two principles which go hand-in-hand: firstly that human life is safeguarded and secondly that there are no compromises on national security. "Evidently lessons in humanity are only addressed to Italy... we do not give in to blackmail and lies", he emphasised.

Pope Francis brought the issue to worldwide attention on Sunday, when he urged European leaders to show "concrete solidarity regarding these people".

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